By Allan Muir
7:30 CST, CSN Chicago, Prime
The league-leading Blackhawks kick off a season-long seven-game homestand after tearing through a 4-0-2 road swing. The red-hot Ducks play the fourth leg of their six-game roadie having won five of their last six.
Keys to the game
Blackhawks: This stacks up to be the toughest test of the season for the Hawks, who not only face a hot team, but the challenge of getting up for the first game back after a long, successful road trip. It’s almost inevitable that they’ll struggle early after dealing with the distractions and pent-up demands of home life. (HACKEL: Road sharpened Hawks’ focus.)
Ducks: As a group, they have to provide better support in their own zone then they have during the past few games. Rookie goalie Viktor Fasth finally sagged under the pressure in their last outing. Tying up the middle and reducing second and third chances will be critical. They’ve proved their ability to come from behind. Might be nice to grab an early lead for a change.
The first period: Chicago tends to strike early and hold the lead. They’re outscoring opponents 16-8 in the first, while the Ducks have given up 17 and scored just 11. This thing could be decided after 20 minutes.
Starting goalies: Corey Crawford (7-0-2, 1.62, .935) vs. Viktor Fasth (5-0-0, 1.72, .932)
Chicago’s offense: 3.42 goals-per-game (second in the league); 14 in their last three contests.
Patrick Kane: Has points in 11 of 12 games this season and multiple points in seven of 12.
Jonathan Toews: Brilliant two-way hockey and five points in his last two games.
Teemu Selanne: Ageless vet rang up his second four-point night in the last three weeks on Saturday.
Sheldon Souray: Three goals, plus-7 in his last five and an imposing presence in his own end.
Chicago’s power play: All that talent but just two-of-23 on the road trip.
Corey Perry: Hasn’t scored in a Kessel (10 games) and has just two assists in his last seven. Did manage to tally in a shootout against St. Louis on Saturday. Something to build on?
Daniel Winnik: Just two assists in his last six games after scoring five goals in his first four of the season.
Fasth allowed five goals on 31 shots (and was beaten three times in the shooutout) by the Blues, equaling the number of tallies he’d given up in his previous four starts. Now that there’s video circulating, are teams starting to figure out how to beat the Swedish League vet?
Head-to-head: Chicago has taken seven of its last nine at home against Anaheim, including the teams’ last two meetings.