CHICAGO | The Anaheim Ducks have lost that winning feeling. Losers of four in a row since beating the Chicago Blackhawks, another game against the team right above them in the Western Conference might be just what they need to break out of this slump.
“Tonight would be great,” captain Ryan Getzlaf said with a laugh.
The Blackhawks are second in the NHL with 25 victories. But they’re 0-2 against Anaheim. To them, Friday night is an opportunity.
“People want to point out that we haven’t won against this team yet, but I don’t think that’s a huge flaw or anything,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. “Obviously we want to prove ourselves. And we played two good games that’s come down to the wire against the Ducks, so tonight obviously if the same situation comes up, that we obviously want to be on top.”
“I think both teams have kind of distanced themselves from the pack a little bit as the season’s gone along,” Toews said. “I think you’ve probably seen what can be as close to a playoff game as it comes during the regular season.”
The Ducks won the previous two meetings with the Blackhawks, most recently March 20. They haven’t won since.
Coach Bruce Boudreau blamed it on slow starts.
“In the last four games we have allowed the nine first-period goals,” Boudreau said. “When you have a team that has played a lot of games and you get behind consistently 2-0 in the first period, you’re not going to have comebacks all the time.”
While Chicago wants to prove itself against Anaheim, the Ducks just want to win a game.
“It is a big game and I think the environment is great, but I would much rather play the junior team than play the Hawks,” Boudreau said. “I mean, it’s not like we’re saying, ‘Yeah, let’s go we’ve got the Hawks tonight.’ They’re the best for a reason and they’re good. But the fear of getting beat badly if you’re playing badly is a great motivator, so hopefully that helps us.”
As for motivation, Getzlaf said that shouldn’t be an issue. Facing Chicago or the Calgary Flames or the Columbus Blue Jackets doesn’t make a difference.
“There’s no games that really set themselves apart to us at this point in the season,” Getzlaf said. “We know that [the Blackhawks are] a great hockey team and they can score a lot of goals. We’ve got to be ready for that in the first period. That’s our mindset: If we can get out of this slump tonight, the sooner the better. That’s the mindset going into every game.”