NHL Western Conference Finals Game Seven: Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Western Conference Finals Game #7
#3 Chicago Blackhawks at #1 Anaheim Ducks
Best of Seven Series Tied 3-3

Honda Center – Anaheim, California
Saturday, May 30, 2015, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
Opening Line: Anaheim -135 / Chicago +115
Current Line: Anaheim -135 / Chicago +115
Opening Total: over 5 -110 / under 5 -110
Current Total: over 5 -140 / under 5 +120

The Ducks and Blackhawks meet in game seven of the Western Conference Finals Saturday night.
The Ducks and Blackhawks meet in game seven of the Western Conference Finals Saturday night.

Hockey fans are excited for the second game seven in the Conference Finals in as many days. Last night, the Tampa Bay Lightning won game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals on the road at the New York Rangers. Now, the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks meet to decide the Western Conference Saturday in Anaheim.

Chicago, coached by Joel Quenneville, finished third in the Central Division with 102 points. The Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators in six games in the first round, and swept the Minnesota Wild in four games in the conference semifinals.

Anaheim, coached by Bruce Boudreau,  won the Pacific Division with 109 points, and had the best record in the Western Conference. The Ducks swept the Winnipeg Jets in the first round and beat the Calgary Flames in five games in the semifinals.

This has been quite the exciting series. Anaheim won the first game 4-1 at home. The next four games were decided by one goal with three overtime games. In each of the overtime games, the winning team has blown at least a two goal lead, before winning in overtime. Chicago won 3-2 in game two in triple overtime. Anaheim won game three in Chicago 2-1. The Blackhawks tied the series in game four with a 5-4 double overtime win. Anaheim then won game five at home 5-4 in overtime to put Chicago on the brink of elimination. The Blackhawks won game six at home Wednesday 5-2 to force game seven. This series could not be any closer as each team has scored 19 goals.

In game six, neither team scored in the first period. Anaheim controlled the play with 10 shots in the period to 6 for Chicago. In the second period Chicago scored 3 goals in a four minute stretch in the middle of the period. Brandon Saad scored first for Chicago 8 minutes into the period, assisted by Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. Marian Hossa scored just over two minutes later assisted by Keith and Brad Richards. Kane scored about a minute and a half later, assisted by Keith to make it 3-0 Blackhawks. Anaheim finally got on the board two minutes later on a power play goal from Patrick Maroon, assisted by Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen.

The Ducks pulled to within 3-2 early in the third on a goal from Clayton Stoner, assisted by Nate Thompson and Jakob Silfverberg. Despite outshooting Chicago 13-4 in the period, Anaheim was unable to score the tying goal. Keith blocked a puck that appeared headed to a wide open net. Andrew Shaw added two late goals to seal the win for Chicago including an empty netter.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford made 30 saves on 32 shots. Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen struggled for the third straight game allowing  4 goals on 22 shots. Anaheim was 1/3 on the power play and Chicago was 0/3. The Ducks had 43 hits to 38 for the Blackhawks. Chicago had 21 turnovers to 16 for Anaheim. The Blackhawks dominated the faceoff circle with 33 wins to 17 for Anaheim.

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Chicago is outscoring teams 3.19-2.94. The Blackhawks are #3 in scoring in the playoffs but #12 in goals allowed. Chicago is 8/47 (17%) on the power play and 36/47 (76.6%) on the penalty kill. Chicago has 3 short handed goals and hasn’t allowed any. The Blackhawks average 33.1 shots per game and opponents average 36.9 per game.

Chicago has used 2 goalies in the playoffs. Crawford struggled against Nashville in the first round and was benched in favor of Scott Darling for four games in that series. Darling struggled too, and Crawford has started every game since. Crawford is 8-4 in the playoffs with 2.53 GAA. He has a save percentage of .918 with one shutout. Darling is 3-1 with a 2.22 GAA. He has a save percentage of .936.

Patrick Kane has 10 goals and 7 assists. Jonathan Toews has 7 goals and 9 assists. Duncan Keith has 2 goals and 14 assists. Patrick Sharp has 4 goals and 8 assists. Marian Hossa has 3 goals and 9 assists. Brad Richards has 2 goals and 7 assists. Three other players have at least 7 points in the playoffs. Defenseman Michal Rozival is out for the season with an ankle injury. Chicago was using only 4 defensemen, but called up a couple of players from the minors for help on the blue line.

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Anaheim is outscoring teams 3.60-2.40 in the playoffs.  Anaheim is 11/43 (25.6%) on the power play and 44/54 (86.8%) on the penalty kill. The Ducks are #2 in power play percentage and #4 in penalty killing. Anaheim has allowed two short handed goals. The Ducks average 35.4 shots per game and allow 29.8 per game.

Andersen is 11-4 in the playoffs with a 2.18 GAA. He has a save percentage of .919 with one shutout.

Corey Perry has 9 goals and 8 assists. Ryan Getzlaf has 2 goals and 17 assists. Jakob Silfverberg has 4 goals and 13 assists. Ryan Kesler has 6 goals and 6 assists.  Sami Vatanen has 3 goals and 8 assists. Patrick Maroon has 7 goals and 3 assists. Hampus Lindholm has 2 goals and 7 assists. Cam Fowler has 2 goals and 7 assists. Andrew Cogliano has 3 goals and 6 assists. Four other players have at least six points in the playoffs.

Chicago is 8-3 against Pacific teams, against Western Conference teams, overall and against teams with winning records. The over is 3-1-2 in this series overall but in games played in Anaheim between the teams, the under is 3-1-2.

Anaheim is 5-0 on two days rest, 4-1 after scoring two goals or less, and against teams with winning road records, 10-3 after a loss by 3 or more goals, 22-7 in Saturday games, 39-14 against Western Conference teams, 20-8 overall, 40-17 against Central teams, and 66-31 at home. The Ducks are 23-9-2 at home against the Blackhawks recently.

Andersen needs to get back to the dominant form he showed earlier in the playoffs as recently as the first three games of this series. Chicago just has so much experience in these games, and is playing in their third straight Western Conference Finals. I think Chicago wins a close game on the road perhaps in overtime.

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