Anaheim Ducks (36-8-5) at Chicago Blackhawks (30-8-11)
|Date & Time||Friday January 17, 2014, 8:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Chicago Blackhawks -121 / Anaheim Ducks +110 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
Two of the game’s best meet up in Chicago as the league leading Ducks invade the United Center for a battle with the Central leading Blackhawks.
The Anaheim Ducks head into Chicago on Friday night looking to pad their lead atop the NHL standings and in the process pick up their 37th victory of the season in just the team’s 50th contest. Anaheim is certainly on a roll for the ages and if they can even play mediocre hockey for the rest of the year they have a great chance at wrapping up the Pacific division and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The Ducks are a very big, and physical team that uses its size to their advantage and against a team like Chicago who has so much skill and finesse combined with their own grit and toughness it should make for a very exciting game. The Ducks have the luxury of having three solid starting goaltenders but it is Swiss national Jonas Hiller who has reaped the benefits of backstopping a strong Ducks team and he certainly deserves his fair share of the credit as well. Hiller gets the call for the Ducks tonight who look to improve their only flaw this season which has been their play on the road.
The Blackhawks meanwhile have shown they are certainly contenders to repeat as Stanley Cup champions as they have been atop the Central division since the puck dropped in October and have received special efforts from Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith this year. If there is any team in the NHL who matches up well against the Ducks it is the Blackhawks as they have a deeper forward unit and just as strong a defensive corps but it is the goaltending that separates these two teams as Anaheim has been far better in that department. Chicago trails the Ducks by just six points in the race for the league’s top mark and a large part of that deficit stems from Chicago’s inability to win games in overtime or shootout. They have 11 losses in the extra frame which is tops in the league and even if they had half of those back they would find themselves on top of the Ducks in the league chase. These two teams are very tight and while the Ducks at this price is very intriguing I can’t go against the Hawks at home especially with Anaheim coming off a nine goal effort against the Canucks.