Western Conference Final Preview: Blackhawks vs Ducks


In our previews for the first two rounds of the postseason, we’ve taken time to look back at the regular season series against two division rivals from Nashville and Minnesota. Now that the Blackhawks have advanced to the Western Conference Final, Chicago will face a foe against whom they only had three opportunities to perform this season: the Anaheim Ducks.

Chicago won both regular season match-ups against Frederik Andersen, winning by identical 4-1 scores at the United Center and the Honda Center. Anaheim won a game 1-0 in Chicago on October 28 with John Gibson in net.

This series will put the two most explosive groups remaining in the playoffs on the ice against each other, with the postseason’s offensive leaderboard in focus on a nightly basis.

2015 Postseason Leaders

The Ducks have received 20 of their 35 goals from four players – Corey Perry (seven), Matt Beleskey (five), Ryan Kesler and Patrick Maroon (four each) – while the Blackhawks have received 21 of their 32 goals from five players – Patrick Kane (seven), Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp (four each) and Brent Seabrook and Brandon Saad (three each).

The scary reality for both coaches is that each team has a sleeping superstar. Ryan Getzlaf has scored only twice and Marian Hossa just once entering the conference final series. Will one of them break out with a big offensive series?

That may be determined by the men in the blue paint. Looking ahead, there will be an emphasis on the goaltenders in the coming series. Anaheim is the only remaining team in these playoff scoring more every night than the Blackhawks, and their superstars have come to play just as much as Chicago’s top tier. How will Andersen Corey Crawford be able to stand up against the opposition?

In the second round:

  • Crawford: 4-0, .947 save percentage, 1 shutout
  • Anderson: 4-1, .926 save percentage, 1 shutout

Anaheim’s blue line is led by Francois Beauchemin, who is averaging 23:52 per night. He’s less than one month away from his 35th birthday, however, and has been buoyed by three youngsters: Sami Vatanen (turns 24 on June 3), Hampus Lindholm (21) and Cam Fowler (23), all of whom are skating more than 21 minutes per night. The Ducks’ are also skating Simon Despres and Clayton Stoner more than 17 minutes per night, which could be a major factor as the Hawks look to David Rundblad to replace Michal Rozsival.

Chicago’s blue line has four veterans averaging more than 24 minutes per game, including active postseason ice time average leader Duncan Keith (30:37 per night). Of course Chicago’s numbers have been impacted by their triple-overtime win in Game Four against Nashville, a night on which Keith skated more than 46 minutes before Brent Seabrook buried the game-winner. Keith did skate more than 29 minutes in three of the four games against Minnesota, however.

Another key area will be the faceoff circle, where each side brings elite players to the dot. Jonathan Toews is the active leader in the Western Conference in faceoffs taken (227) and has won 50.7 percent against tough competition from Nashville and Minnesota. Ryan Kesler has won 63.7 percent of his 215 draws while Ryan Getzlaf has won 51.4 percent of his opportunities at the dot for Anaheim. As a team, the Ducks are winning 55.4 percent of their faceoffs – which ranks second behind only Washington – while the Blackhawks are winning 51.4 percent.

This series may be won on special teams. Anaheim is the postseason leader, converting 31 percent of their power play opportunities (nine power play goals on 29 advantages through nine games). The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are killing only 72.7 percent of their opponents’ power plays; Chicago has allowed nine power play goals in 33 short-handed situations over ten games thus far. The Hawks will need to stay out of the box and be effective when they are short-handed against a hot Anaheim offense.

If there is one area where the Hawks hold a distinct advantage it’s experience, especially behind the bench. This is the first time Bruce Boudreau will coach in a conference final series, while Joel Quenneville has been here in five of the last seven postseasons. The experience between the pipes is also important, as Andersen has played in 16 playoffs games in his career to date; Crawford won 16 games in 2013 alone.

Prediction: Blackhawks in 6

54 thoughts on “Western Conference Final Preview: Blackhawks vs Ducks

  • May 11, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Also intriguing:

  • May 11, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Tab, I believe the Hawks are 2-1 against ANA this year. They lost 1-0 early in the year with I think Smith-Pelly scoring the lone goal (now he’s on MON).

  • May 11, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Hawks in 5 or less. I feel like this is going to be a shoot out and the Hawks have too many weapons.

    Also with the short blue line the sooner they can end this the better. Going to be a lot of yelling at the TV for this series.

  • May 11, 2015 at 10:58 am

    re: Frolik Navidad – correct. John Gibson won the 1-0 game in Oct at the UC. The Hawks faced – and beat – Andersen twice by identical 4-1 scores.

  • May 11, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Frolik- you are correct… 2-1

    I got hawks in 6.

    Want to say 5, but i’ll give the Ducks 2 at home.

    Just dont see the Hawks losing though… playing too good.

  • May 11, 2015 at 11:09 am

    We played these guys 3 times this year…Lost to them 1-0 at home on Oct. 28…Won both games on the road in Anaheim…

  • May 11, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Sorry the comments didn’t show up when I posted that…Didn’t mean to duplicate…

  • May 11, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Match-ups are going to be huge. I expect the Toews line to beat Getzlaf/Perry at the UC. But I wonder if the Ducks want that match-up as well at the Honda Center? And then who do they put Kesler on: Kane or Toews?

    While 25% of the players have 66% of the goals, we saw a lot more scoring depth in Round 2—every line, the PP, and the PK had goals.

    Should be a great series. Looking forward to it.

  • May 11, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Again, faceoffs will be huge. I look to Vermette as a wild card for us. How will they match up? Put Kessler against Richards or Vermette? Toews v Getzlaf seems like a given. Special teams will be huge, too.

  • May 11, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Kinda excited the Hawks will be going up against Kesler again in the playoffs. There will definitely be some carryover from the Van rivalry! And if Perry is his usual putz self, this series will get a bit more heated than the previous 2 rounds. Hopefully Shaw can keep himself out of the box and continue to draw penalties.

  • May 11, 2015 at 11:42 am

    The first two lines look evenly matched and Toews/Getzlaf cancel each other out and then Kesler gets draped on Kane largely rendering that battle a stalemate. That takes us to the third lines:

    TT – Vermette – Sharp
    Cogliano – Rakell – Palmeri

    Looking at the numbers, the lines are close but Vermette seems to have turned a corner and Sharp is probably playing as well as any forward in the league. Rakell wins under 50% of his face-offs (46.6% on the season) and Vermette should eat his lunch at the dot. If the Hawks control possession off the draw, Sharp gets off a ton of shots and the third line match-up decides the series.

    Special teams as Tab mentions will be huge. The Hawks kill numbers are pretty ugly and the Ducks have been pretty efficient thus far. The Hawks need to stay out of the box – hopefully Perry doesn’t lure Shaw into taking dumb penalties.

    Hawks in 6.

    On additional prediction: if the Ducks do manage to pull off the win, Kesler will have a huge series and the board melts down with SB being thrown under the bus for not going out to get Kesler.

  • May 11, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Once again it looks like the “real” Stanley Cup final will be played in the Western Conference final. Anaheim is a deep, big, strong team, who have had some disappointing playoff exits in recent years. Their highly respected coach, who similarly to last season’s cup champion coach played for the Blackhawks, is due, having brought Anaheim and Washington before them deep into the playoffs many times in recent history. Getzlaf and Perry are in the prime of their careers, both 29 years of age, hungry, and playing with a sense of urgency. They handled two lesser foes with relative ease, playing up to expectation. Their strong regular season, experienced and hungry coaching regime, and playoff domination to this point have all arrows pointing up for Anaheim.

    Hawks in 4.

  • May 11, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Desjardins ill again today…. uggghhh….

  • May 11, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    I wonder how bad Perry’s hip/knee is from last night’s game. Looked like he was done at the time of the hit. Must have got some meds in the room and came back. We’ll see if there is any residual in the next few days. Or maybe it was just one big DIVE!

  • May 11, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Ducks will be biggest challenge to the warriors , this may be the best team the Hawks have played in any of their cup runs. Perry and Kesler are extremely able cheap shot artists who can slyly injure opponents. After watching Ducks vs Flames . it was like the Ducks were playing an extremely overmatched Flame squad , so that may work to the Hawks advantage as Ducks werent tested in the least . Hawks in seven. B

  • May 11, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I disagree. Ducks are massively overrated IMO. Not a lot past their top two lines and less depth than Chicago (even now) on the blue line.

    Should be an open series and in that type of contest Chicago has the advantage. Plus Crawford is back to being Crawford so + there as well.

    It is infuriating to watch Perry play. He’s like Dustin Brown except that he is still capable of scoring goals.

    It’ll be frustrating at times to watch for sure but the Hawks are the better team and after the last series I think they’re done jerking around.

  • May 11, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Good pt. AJ re: Katie Perry. He makes D. Brown look like Lady Byng nominee. D. Brown intermittently dirty; Perry is constantly looking to injure someone when he’s not trying to score.

  • May 11, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Corey Perry is a joke. A lot of calls went Anaheim’s way that series. Games 1 aside, each game was close with Calgary leading before losing.

    Bottom 3 teams came from the Pacific this year. Time for Anaheim to be tested.

  • May 11, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Hawks played extremely well against Anaheim during the season. That 1-0 loss was early in the season when the offense was struggling and the lone goal was scored on a breakaway after Seabrook fell and lost the puck. Darling was in goal. My gut tells me Anaheim doesn’t perform up to expectations while the Hawks do but most of the time I’m wrong . :)

  • May 11, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Shut down the Getzlaf Perry line, and youre left with Kesler.

  • May 11, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Watching perry in agony after the collision. i thought he was done for the year , When he came back that soon . i figured he was trying to get an intent to injure penalty called , and it was an inspiring acting dive/


  • May 11, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    I enjoyed watching Perry writhe around in pain but then wanted to punch him in his squirrely cheap-shot artist face when he jumped back on the ice immediately. I enjoy soccer a lot but the one thing I hate most of all are the theatrics involved following every foul. Perry reminds me of some of the worst soccer offenders, one Spanish guy in particular who also has a very punchable face.

    I hope the Hawks bury Perry but suspect this will be a long, grind-it-out series.

  • May 11, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    While the Ducks might have 3 of the best players the Hawks have seen, they also have the worst blue line of the Hawks playoff foes. The Ducks also have the least accomplished goalie of all the Hawks foes. Rinne and Dubnyk were Veznia finalists. Fredrick Anderson is not in that class and an average NHL goalie.

    Last series i thought the Hawks were in alot of trouble against the Wild. This series id be shocked if the wheels fall off and the Hawks got knocked off. This is only the Ducks 4th western finals all time surprisingly. While the Ducks are a quality foe i said the Ducks path to the western final was the easiest path of all playoff games.

    Hawks in 6

  • May 11, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I believe the hawks will win in 6 or 7-
    but Hawks in 4-Wow, that’s a stretch-do love that the Hawks are not being favoured by many of the hockey pucks in Canada.
    “The big powerful Ducks will be too much and the worst team for them to be playing–blah, blah…’

  • May 11, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    My biggest concern is special teams. Will the Ducks be able to get timely goals against what has been an underwhelming PK? Have to right that ship.

  • May 11, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    My biggest concern is that a cheap shot hit by Perry takes out one of our guys.

    All the other divisions had bottom feeders to pad their records. The Central did not. Hawks are battle tested more than any of the remaining teams. That will serve us well.

    Hawks in six games.

  • May 11, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    I expect the Hawks to win in 5 or maybe 6. Toews’ line will match their top unit. Kaner will best Kesler et al by 2 to 3 goals but our third and fourth lines will have a big series. TT and Sharp especially will really start to click. That depth combined with excellent goaltending will overcome the shortcomings on special teams.

  • May 11, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    Anaheim has a history similar to St. Louis in the playoffs by not living up to expectations. Detroit upset them in the first round in ’13 and LA beat them in the second round in ’14. I think both times they were up 3 games to 2… I might be wrong but Boudreau had the same story when he coached Washington.

    @Chevrier – Are you thinking of David Suarez? He’s from Uruguay and played with Liverpool a couple of years ago. Maybe he’s in the Spanish league now but he’s terrible with the theatrics. I think he bit someone too. The women players get knocked down and get back up. Yeah it’s pitiful.

  • May 11, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Playing a good MIN team made us play better. We took it to another level. WIN or CAL did not. We still have another gear on top of that.

  • May 11, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    You are bang on with that Morrison…bring it on.

  • May 11, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Hopefully Hawks in 5/6 games.

    Interestingly, Versteeg played some of his best games against the Ducks and Rundblad played some of his worst. We probably won’t see 23 at all and 5 will play.

    Third line is key. Vermette needs to dominate at the dot and Sharp needs to bury some more.

    Let’s go Hawks!

  • May 11, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Does the long rest do us good, in our favour? or…does it slow us down a tad and we lose forward momentum at that level..time to heal the bruises and sore wrists can’t hurt…

  • May 11, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    their PP/our PK hasn’t been this good/bad all year, expect a regression. There D is nowhere near good enough to win a series vs. us. Period. I expect us to play very well in Anaheim. As usual

  • May 12, 2015 at 12:02 am

    Amazing that Wisniewski does not even play. Hawks have had lots of success against Anaheim because our guys in my biased opinion are just much better from the goalie out.

  • May 12, 2015 at 12:23 am

    Comparing the Hawks to past years several things stand out to me. 1) strength up the middle. There has never been 4 solid centers on a Blackhawks team to speak of. How many times in the past did everyone cry we didn’t have three good centers? 2) 4 solid lines. I think line 4 is as good as almost any line three in the league. I love Shaw there and he has bought into the team concept and is not complaining. 3) Strongest goalie tandum. Having Darling as no 2 is huge and Crawford is playing his best hockey right now. Okay a possible downfall is you have 4 top defensemen and a huge drop off from there. I think the 3 benefits above will out weigh this issue and the Hawks are will be hard to stop. re Coach Q. Last year managed the top scoring team. This year’s team tied for the lowest goals allowed. I think he is very smart and a flexible coach that coaches to his teams strengths. It’s not just the 2 Stanleys that make him good. Also this team sees blood and has significantly ramped things up from the regular season. I feel this is a team to get excitied about and will be hard to stop.

  • May 12, 2015 at 12:42 am

    Perry is a dick.

  • May 12, 2015 at 9:07 am

    The real match up in this series is the coaches. Q is regarded as a very cerebral coach that looks at every match up and changes match ups from shift to shift. Boudreau is regarded as a coach who just seems to fall into talented teams and finds a way to screw things up when the heat is on.

    We’ll see how the red faced pumpkin head matches up against a future “hall of famer”.

  • May 12, 2015 at 9:13 am

    The one major plus on the thin defensive corps is that we’ve had a LOT of rest since the Nashville series ended. No OT games and a 4 game sweep vs. the Wild and now we are waiting for the East to wrap before we start.

    If this thing goes 7 games with the big bodies the Ducks can roll I can see our D getting worn down. I can also see Runblad getting reduced to a puddle after one too many jarring hits.

    @Turtle – Was thinking Sergio Busquetes on Barcelona but Suarez is pretty bad too. He is also a 3-time convicted biter. I will stop the soccer talk now.

  • May 12, 2015 at 9:47 am

    The series will be simply determined by the Hawks 3 and 4th lines. Ducks top two lines can and will play the Hawks to a stand still. Ducks top 2 lines are big strong and will wear you down even if they don’t score and they love setting up shop in front of the net, A LOT! Kessssler at times has Toews number and that to me is THE MATCH UP. Including the face off dot . .. whom ever wins the dot is the favorite, Ducks set up very well after winning draw, so we need to own the dot.

    The real pressure continues to be on that 4th line for sure and Shaw needs to have a big series. The pressure is also on Vermette too, Coach Q will “sit him” if he does not get going on the offensive end of the ice and score and he must continue to be physical. Vermette defense is actually very good but he is so quick to get back ( he’s paranoid by Coach Q like Thibs for Bulls) he exit the offensive zone often too early so he’s not benched.

    I look for Richards to excel and Bick and Sharp to play very well. i feel Shaw is in position to surprise some people a lot on the offensive end.

    If Crow can remain stable, calm and square without those exaggerated movements post to post Hawks will win it. Andersen is okay at best. But the top 2 lines of each team will beat the crap out of each other and any power play will be “suicide” vs the Ducks so if we play 5 on 5 the tilt goes to the Hawks. Patient and Discipline go to the Hawks. They are playing better and better which is a very good sign.

  • May 12, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Hawks in two… trust me if the hawkd canwin the first two at anahime then you might as well line it up their, were undefeated at home this season

  • May 12, 2015 at 11:20 am

    If the Hawks had a third defensive pairing, I think they could sweep the Ducks, but the key to the series will be how effective Q is protecting his 5th and 6th DMen, whoever they turn out to be. Keith will have to skate about 30 minutes a game and the other top 3 will have to skate 24+ minutes to make this work. Crawford will need to excel at rebound control, as ANA scores a lot of goals on 2nd and 3rd chances.

  • May 12, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Dickie Dunn, you speak the truth regarding Perry. The guy is an enigma. Very talented player that has a screw loose somewhere in his brain that causes him to play a needlessly dirty and chippy game. The guy is simply a lightning rod for good and evil energy. When I saw him go down in the clinch game vs Calgary I thought ah ha karma coming back to that POS! Regarding that injury/faked injury. I thought he got drilled and his leg bent badly in the wrong direction. Likely he went to dressing room for the needle to allow him to come back. It was reported that he was limping noticeably after the game. If Perry has physical limitations it goes big advantage Hawks. That line though Perry plays on though is really good. Hawks better be prepared for battle in front of Corey with that group.

    Then there is the Kesler factor. Another really talented guy that has loose screws that will leave him a lifelong Canucklehead. Both Perry and Kesler left to their basic character are likely to take multiple dumb ass penalties where the Hawks can hopefully make em pay.

    I think Hawks match up well with Ducks for a 7 game series. If Hawks play their game a trip to the finals is likely. ducks will try and use physical game to beat down the Hawks, but I don’t think Ducks can skate with the Hawks. If Hawks special teams play average to good, and they keep the core healthy, I’m going with Hawks in 6. I sure hope this thing starts Friday.

    Lets Go Hawks!

  • May 12, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    As bad as the Hawks third pairing might be, Anaheim’s is worse and their top 4 isn’t nearly as good.

  • May 12, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    ANA’s game will be to beat us up and wear us down. It will be crucial that 29, 80 and Shaw bring the physical game to counterpunch. Look for LOTS of around the net after play skirmish BS. 7 needs to stand tough as Getzlaf and Kessler are both able to bring the tough game and score. Perry is what he is, need to watch him carefully so he doesn’t take anyone out. Their big guys on lines 3-4 will hit Keith, 4 and 27 at every oppty. Get ready to roll!

    Predict that Hawks will need 1st game to get back “warmed up” and rolling, but I see Hawks taking game 2 and then holding serve at the UC to go up 3-1. Predict Ducks hold serve in game 5 and Hawks take em at home to take series 4-2.

  • May 12, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Heard that Rozsval had successful ankle surgery and full recovery to be expected in 12 to 16 weeks. Great news. Best of luck and best wishes for a full and speedy recovery for a class act. Go Hawks.

  • May 12, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    Agree with Negz. Look for the Ducks to take the Babcock approach. Beat up, beat down, beat on Toews as much as possible. We will have to dish out at least as much as we get if not more if refs don’t maintain control of the game from the onset. I am looking for our 4th line to make a much bigger contribution than last year’s conference finals, as I believe they match up well against the quacks.

  • May 12, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    The Ducks are going to come after us and try to intimidate – that’s a big part of their game. But you can’t hit what you can’t catch, so hopefully we’ll make them chase and frustrate them. But I expect this one to get chippy, and I don’t trust Perry for a second. The guy is a 24 carat instigator, a cheap shot artist and, now we all know, an actor, too. @MTM – I don’t think Q can afford to pull Vermette if his scoring doesn’t materialize. We need him on the dot winning face offs no matter what. Just MHO.

  • May 13, 2015 at 12:55 am

    Bickell is going to smash Getzlaf.

  • May 13, 2015 at 10:37 am

    I have heard conflicting news regarding the start dates of the WC finals. Yesterday on the radio it was being floated the Hawks-Ducks would start Sunday. Yesterday following the Bolts win they said Sat should start EC finals. Does that mean the West would start as early as Friday? Why are these vagaries such a big part of the NHL? Hawks will be off a ridiculous amount of time between closing out Wild and starting the Conf finals. Rest is good, but rust can set in. I would imagine the players are getting antsy because I know the fans are.

    Lets Go Hawks!

  • May 13, 2015 at 11:54 am

    I saw on the Honda Center ticket site that game 1 is on Sunday.

  • May 13, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    As far as the Hawks getting rusty after a week off ,i dont think that will happen. these guys have been playing for the most part since they could walk ,if nothing else time off will add a jump to their step . to stay away from the goons


  • May 13, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Anaheim will have a week off too. I don’t think the layoff will hurt the Hawks much, if any. They’ll use the rest and practice time to their advantage. More time for Q to work on Runblad. The league knew the last game for the east would be Thursday at the latest. Why wait until Sunday?

  • May 13, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    re: why wait – because there are other events at the Honda Center they have to deal with… specifically a concert on Saturday night.

  • May 13, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    I see now… A concert on Saturday night. Could be Bloods vs. Crips that night followed by Hawks vs. Ducks Sunday at 2 PM Central Time.

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