By Kyle Shohara
In what has become a post-Thanksgiving tradition, today the Ducks host the Chicago Blackhawks for an afternoon matchup at Honda Center. This marks the ninth time Anaheim has hosted Chicago on Black Friday, with the Ducks posting a 4-3-1 record in eight previous contests.
Of course the last time these two clubs met in this building was Game 7 of the 2015 Western Conference Final, a game that was unceremoniously decided in the opening period by the Blackhawks. Chicago’s captain, Jonathan Toews, had two goals in the first period, and Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa tacked on goals before Ryan Kesler got on the board in the final minutes of the second period. The Blackhawks went on to win, 5-3, to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, where they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games to secure their third Stanley Cup in the past six seasons.
The disheartening defeat served as both a learning experience and a motivational tool for the Ducks, who wore workout t-shirts with the slogan “Close Is Not Good Enough” on the back.
Today marks the start of a six-game homestand for the Ducks, who are coming off a 4-2 loss against the Arizona Coyotes two nights ago at Gila River Arena. For a team that has been searching for consistency all season, one has to wonder what a victory today against the defending Stanley Cup champs can do. Following this game, Anaheim’s homestand continues next week with games on Monday vs. Vancouver, Wednesday vs. Tampa Bay, Friday vs. San Jose and Sunday vs. Pittsburgh. The homestand concludes two weeks from today against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Yesterday head coach Bruce Boudreau gave an update on goaltender Frederik Andersen, who he says is still feeling the effects of the flu. Because of this, it could very well be John Gibson’s net today against the Blackhawks. The 22-year-old is coming off a 30-save performance against Arizona. He made his season debut in relief of Anton Khudobin, stopping 19-of-20 shots in a 5-3 win, November 24 vs. Calgary.
Gibson was 7-4-1 with a 2.63 GAA and .917 SV% in 13 games with the Gulls at the time of his recall.
The Blackhawks are in the midst of their annual circus trip, named after a yearly stretch of time in November when they (along with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls) are forced out on the road by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ arrival at the United Center.
It’s a six-game road trip for Chicago, which is currently 2-1-1 with victories on Nov. 18 at Edmonton (4-3 OT) and Nov. 25 at San Jose (5-2). The Blackhawks conclude their road trip tomorrow night against the LA Kings.
The Ducks have hosted 14 games on the day after Thanksgiving (all afternoon games at Honda Center), going 7-4-3 (.607 points percentage). Anaheim owns a 9-5-4 overall record in day-after-Thanksgiving contests, outscoring the opposition 51-45.
Anaheim and Chicago hit the halfway point of a three-game season series this afternoon at Honda Center. The Ducks own a 44-30-10 all-time record against the Blackhawks, including a 23-13-4 mark in Orange County. In the series opener, Toews scored 51 seconds into overtime to lead Chicago to a 1-0 win on Oct. 26 at the United Center. Shawn Horcoff has 14-20—34 points in 51 career games vs. Chicago, tops among current Anaheim skaters. These two teams will meet again in the season series finale on Feb. 13 in Chicago.
Since returning from a four-game absence due to an appendectomy on Nov. 6, Ryan Getzlaf (1-13—14) leads the NHL in assists and is tied for third in scoring.
Patrick Kane is on a career-high 17-game point streak (10-18—28). He leads the league with 34 points and 21 assists; he is tied for second with 13 goals. Bobby Hull owns the franchise record with a 21-game point streak during the 1971-72 season.