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Quenneville: Ducks ‘great test’ for Chicago as NHL’s top two teams square off

Jan 17, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT

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It’s not often the Blackhawks head into a game trailing their opponent in the standings, but tonight they’ll do exactly that.

The ‘Hawks — sitting second in the Western Conference — will host the NHL’s hottest team tonight as the Ducks fly into the United Center. Anaheim sits atop the league standings with 77 points (36-8-5), six clear of the ‘Hawks, and Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville knows this is arguably the biggest challenge his club has faced all season.

“It’s a great test for us,” he said, per the Chicago Tribune. “They’re on an amazing run. Game in and game out they’re a hard team to play against and they have a lot of guys contributing.”

As you’ve probably heard, the Ducks are tearing apart the league. They’ve won 18 of their last 19 games, tied with the 1967-68 Montreal Canadiens as the only teams in NHL history to win 18 of 19 in a season.

What’s more, Anaheim is coming off a 9-1 pasting of Vancouver in which it set a franchise record for goals in a game.

But while the Ducks are flying high, the ‘Hawks aren’t exactly soaring. Chicago has lost five of seven (but still collected eight of a possible 14 points) and has been lamenting its lack of finish. The team fired 48 shots on Semyon Varlamov in a 3-2 OT loss last game out, but could only manage to slide two past the Colorado ‘keeper. It marked the fourth time in the last five games the ‘Hawks finished with two goals or fewer, hardly what you’d expect from a team boasting the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.

“If some of those go in, we’re maybe not talking about being in a rut because we won the last game too [against the Edmonton Oilers],” Duncan Keith said, per NHL.com. Over the last couple of games there might be games we’ve been more consistent in, but we had a lot of chances in the last game and they just didn’t go in.”

  1. jpelle82 - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    nhl’s top 2 teams? the top 2 teams in the west? not in my humble opinion. chicago only has 26 regulation wins in 49 games…barely over half their games (53.1%). in 3 less games st louis has 28 reg wins (60.8%) and the highest goal diff in the league. pittsburgh is the only team with less wins than anaheim and they are winning 62.5% in regulation. even boston with 62 points is better than chicago in regulation hockey 61.7%. chicago needs to figure out how to win in 60 minutes before the playoffs start, coach q probably already knows that though…

    • joey4id - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      Maybe this is the Hawks’ version of the SC hangover. Should be a good one considering both teams are relatively healthy, but. like you mentioned the Hawks seem to be struggling a little. 4-1-5 in the last 10 vs 9-1-0. Also, neither team played last night. That always help. If Q didn’t know he knows now. He reads you all the time jpelle. ;-)

  2. kingcobraman - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    I would agree the two best teams, should be a great game to watch….

  3. flash8910 - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    St. Louis is 2 points behind the Hawks, but have 3 games in hand. 3 GAMES!!! St. Louis have 2 more wins. They don’t live off the charity point. St. Louis has a goal differential of 60 (Hawks 42).

    • flash8910 - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:37 PM

      One more thing, do my eyes deceive me…St. Louis is 3-0 against the Hawks this season.

      • hetrick33 - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:14 PM

        remind me when St Louis actually wins anything…….they are the champions until somebody knocks them off

  4. endusersolutions2013 - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    While an open and known ‘Hawks fan, They are not one of the top two teams currently. That “honor” goes to the Ducks (.77% of possible points) and Blues (.75%) are clearly ahead of the Hawks, who will be at .73, Pens at .729.

    If you were saying one of the top 4 teams in the league, that wold be accurate. However tonight, Hawks have been clearly outplaying the Ducks – up 3-0 with 9 left, almost double SOG.

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