BY SETH GRUEN
The Blackhawks and Ducks are two of the three highest-scoring teams in the league. They’re two of the five highest-shooting teams in the league. They each have three productive scoring lines and
two solid goaltenders.
While they’re not exactly mirror images of each other — the Hawks’ defense is superior at both ends of the rink, and the Ducks’ have more size up front — they’re using similar formulas to get to the top of the NHL. And they both figure to stay there and jockey with each other for the top seed in the Western Conference — along with the bruising St. Louis Blues — with their puck-possession based games.
“They do a good job of making it tough to score goals and get to that net, and they like to handle the puck a lot, as well,” said Patrick Sharp.
That’s the Hawks’ style, too. And in a conference that’s getting more defensive every year, the three top teams — the Ducks, the Hawks and the Blues — just so happen to be the three highest-scoring teams in the league.
Could these teams become trendsetters in the typically more plodding, defensive-minded West ? That can only be determined over several seasons. But in the short term, whoever can play that style best might emerge as the favorite to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
“They’ve got a lot of skilled guys throughout the lineup,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “Their first three lines can score a lot of goals so we’ve got to play really solid defensively.
“As long as you have the puck, they can’t score goals, so we’re going to try to have the puck as much as possible and put it in their end and try to cycle them and create chances, shoot a lot, and keep doing our thing.”
It’s the Ducks’ thing too. It’s just a matter of who does it better.