By Kyle Shohara
While thousands upon thousands of people are out shopping for the best deals of the year, the Ducks are busy prepping for their game this afternoon against the Chicago Blackhawks. Though many in attendance will undoubtedly be feeling the effects of their Thanksgiving meals last night, an electric, playoff-type atmosphere is expected inside Honda Center.
This is Anaheim’s annual Black Friday home matchup, one that dates back 14 years. The Ducks haven’t experienced many post-Thanksgiving hiccups, either, as the club enters today’s matchup with a 7-3-3 record (.654 win/points percentage) in those games. Overall, Anaheim owns a 9-4-4 record in day-after-Thanksgiving contests, outscoring the opposition 50-41. This is the eighth time the Ducks have hosted the Blackhawks on Black Friday, with the Ducks posting a 4-2-1 record in those seven previous contests.
An already depleted Ducks blueline might be even thinner today because Francois Beauchemin’s status is still up in the air. Beauchemin had an assist and three hits in 16:29 TOI in Tuesday’s victory vs. Calgary before taking a slap shot off his hand. He did not return to the game. Anaheim is already without the services of Ben Lovejoy (fractured finger), Mark Fistric (lower back) and Clayton Stoner (mumps-like symptoms).
Tonight marks the second game of a three-game season series against the Hawks. The Ducks earned a 1-0 victory in the series opener on Oct. 28 at United Center. Goaltender John Gibson turned aside all 38 shots faced en route to Anaheim’s first shutout in Chicago since Oct. 28, 2006. Devante Smith-Pelly broke a scoreless tie at 11:32 of the third with his second career shorthanded goal against Chicago’s Scott Darling. Smith-Pelly’s go-ahead goal turned into the eventual game winner, also the second of his career. Anaheim outhit Chicago, 37-18, and also recorded 18 blocked shots to Chicago’s nine. The victory kick started a four-game road trip that saw the Ducks earn six of eight points.
The Ducks own a 44-29-9 all-time record vs. Chicago (23-11-4 mark in Anaheim). Corey Perry leads Anaheim in career scoring vs. Chicago, notching 29 points (13g/16a) in 33 career games. The season series will conclude in Anaheim on Friday, Jan. 30 (7 p.m. PST).
Because of the annual Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey performances at United Center during this time of the year, the Blackhawks packed their bags for an extended road trip (dubbed the “Circus Trip”) out West. This year, their excursion is a six-game, nine-day trek that began in Calgary on Nov. 20. Today is the penultimate game on their journey which concludes Saturday in Los Angeles.
Their 3-2 victory in Denver two nights ago improved their record to 3-1 in the first four games of the road trip.
THINGS TO KNOW
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf leads Anaheim in scoring (6-13=19), co-leads in assists and has seven multi-point games in 22 games this season.
Ryan Kesler has 6-11=17 points in his first 23 games as a Duck, including 3-6=9 points in his last nine.
Perry, who has scored 12 goals in 18 games this season, ranks ninth among NHL leaders in shooting percentage (21.8) and tied for fourth in goals.
Sami Vatanen already has a career-high four power-play goals, is tied for fourth among league leaders in power-play points (4-8=12, leading NHL defensemen) and tied for sixth for goals by a defenseman (5). Vatanen enters today’s game with points in eight of his last 10 games (2-9=11) and ranks second among team leaders in overall scoring (5-13=18) and co-leads in assists.
Kyle Palmieri is riding a career-tying two-game goal streak (2-0=2, fourth time) and has three goals in his last four games (3-0=3).
Matt Beleskey has points in three of his last four games (3-1=4) and is one goal shy of matching his career best of 11 set in 60 games during the 2009-10 season.