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

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Western Conference Finals Game #2
#3 Chicago Blackhawks at #1 Anaheim Ducks
Ducks Lead Best of Seven Series 1-0

Honda Center – Anaheim, California
Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 9:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC Sports
Opening Line: Anaheim -135 / Chicago +115
Current Line: Anaheim -125 / Chicago +105
Opening Total: over 5 -110 / under 5 -110
Current Total: over 5 -140 / under 5 +120

The Ducks look to take a 2-0 series lead against the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals.
The Ducks look to take a 2-0 series lead against the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals.

The Anaheim Ducks have had by far the easiest path so far in the playoffs of the four teams that are left. Many thought that would change in the Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are making their third straight trip to the Western Conference Finals and fifth in seven years, with two Stanley Cups since 2010. The Ducks are back in the Conference Finals for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007.

This very well could develop into the competitive series everyone expected. However, in game one the Ducks dominated and won 4-1. Game two is Tuesday night 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.

In game one of the Western Finals, Anaheim proved to have more depth especially on defense. Both teams were well rested with Chicago having 10 days off and Anaheim was off for a week after short series in the last round. Anaheim scored first on a goal from defenseman Hampus Lindholm, assisted by Jakob Silfverberg and Matt Beleskey nine minutes into the first period. This was after Anaheim netminder Frederik Andersen made an incredible lunging stick save on a shot from Patrick Kane into what appeared to be a wide open net. Anaheim took a 2-0 lead four minutes into the second on a goal from Kyle Palmieri assisted by Nate Thompson. Chicago would get on the board with less than a minute left in the second on an unassisted goal from Brad Richards. Anaheim added another goal with just over 8 minutes to go in the third from Thompson, assisted by Andrew Cogliano and Lindholm. Silfverberg added an empty netter for the Ducks assisted by Simon Despres and Ryan Getzlaf.

Andersen was spectacular making 32 saves on 33 shots. Chicago goalie Corey Crawford struggled as he has for a lot of the playoffs making 23 saves on 26 shots. Anaheim had 27 shots on goal. Chicago was 0/3 on the power play and Anaheim was 0/1. The Ducks had 44 hits to 34 fro the Blackhawks. Anaheim had 19 turnovers to 16 for Chicago. The Ducks won 41 faceoffs to 38 for the Blackhawks.

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Chicago is outscoring teams 3.00-2.91. The Blackhawks are #3 in scoring in the playoffs but #12 in goals allowed. Chicago is 5/28 (17.9%) on the power play and 25/34 (73.5%) on the penalty kill. Chicago has 2 short handed goals and hasn’t allowed any. The Blackhawks average 32.2 shots per game and opponents average 35.5 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 the last six games in net. Crawford is 5-2 in the playoffs with 2.67 GAA. He has a save percentage of .912 with one shutout. Darling is 3-1 with a 2.22 GAA. He has a save percentage of .936. Crawford is scheduled to start game two, but could be on a short leash if he struggles again like in game one.

Patrick Kane has 7 goals and 6 assists. Jonathan Toews has 4 goals and 7 assists. Duncan Keith has 2 goals and 8 assists. Patrick Sharp has 4 goals and 5 assists. Marian Hossa has a goal and 7 assists. Three other players have 5 points in the playoffs. Defenseman Michal Rozival is out for the season with an ankle injury.

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Anaheim is outscoring teams 3.90-1.90 in the playoffs. The Ducks are first in both categories among the 16 playoff teams. Anaheim is 9/30 (30%) on the power play and 30/34 (88.2%) on the penalty kill. The Ducks are #2 in power play percentage and #4 in penalty killing. Anaheim has allowed one short handed goal. The Ducks average 33.1 shots per game and allow 27.2 per game.

Andersen is 9-1 in the playoffs with a 1.86 GAA. He has a save percentage of .936 with one shutout.

Corey Perry has 7 goals and 8 assists. Ryan Getzlaf has 2 goals and 11 assists. Silfverberg has 4 goals and 9 assists. Ryan Kesler has 4 goals and 5 assists. Lindholm has 2 goals and 6 assists. Six other players have at least six points in the playoffs.

Chicago is 4-0 on one day rest and after scoring 2 goals or less, 5-1 against Pacific Division teams, against teams with winning records, against Western Conference teams, and overall, 13-3 after a loss by 3 or more goals, 4-1 in Tuesday games, and 2-5 in Conference Finals games. The road team is 4-1 in this series recently. The under is 20-6-1 ATS in this series recently.

Anaheim is 4-0 in Conference Finals games, 17-5 after allowing 2 goals or less, 38-14 against Western Conference teams, 38-14 against Central teams, 10-4 against teams with winning road records, 85-36 after a win, 46-21 overall, 65-30 at home, and 35-17 on one day rest. The Ducks are 22-8-2 against the Blackhawks in  Anaheim recently.

Anaheim’s top line of Perry and Getzlaf didn’t do much in game one apart from an assist. Still, Anaheim had the depth to win game one decisively. It isn’t quite a must win game for Chicago, but it would be difficult for Chicago to win the series if they lost game two as well. I think the Blackhawks win a high scoring game perhaps 4-3 maybe even in overtime.

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