Western Conference Finals vs. Anaheim: Game 1

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It’s been too long without Blackhawks playoff hockey. 10 days gave plenty of time for my beard to grow, though. Plenty of time to grow my beard and conjure the mojo.

The Blackhawks entered the Super Macho Man code, made quick work of the Minnesota Wild with a series sweep, and are right back where they were around this time last year in the Conference Finals. This matchup with Anaheim is going to present some interesting challenges, as the Hawks have never faced the Ducks in the playoffs before. Anaheim is going to be a tough out. They have a good mix of speed from their defense and physicality from their forwards, two traits that tend to give the Hawks a hard time.

Any conversation about the Anaheim Ducks begins with their top two forwards, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Getzlaf owns one of the most punchable faces in the NHL. He looks like the kind of guy who would derisively shout “derrr-errr-errr” at you after everything he says. I want to stick my fist right in his suckhole every time they show a closeup of him. He is every bit the two-way player Jonathan Toews is, and will have the job of facing off against Toews the whole series. Perry is the worst. Not only is he skilled and very good at doing the hockey dirty work, he does all kinds of shitty stuff after the whistle or behind the referee’s back. Expect to see some knees and elbows from this douchebag. Hopefully none of the Hawks catch his hot tub mumps as a result.

The man that I hate the most on the Ducks is our old friend, 2nd line center and diving champion Ryan Kesler. You’ll remember Kesler from his days with Vancouver. He falls down easy and cries to the referees the whole game, right after he gets done doing some dirty shit himself. This whole series will likely depend on how well his line with goon Matt Beleskey and Jakob Silfverberg can contain Patrick Kane.

On defense, Anaheim doesn’t have guys that really scare you. Francois Beauchemin is the best of them, but his 34-year old bones don’t move as fast as they used to. The Ducks have mostly puck moving defenseman types like Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen. The Ducks also employ royal prick Clayton Stoner. Stoner is terrible. His only purpose is to hit people and do ratty shit before and after the whistle. If John Mayer were a hockey player, he’d be Clayton Stoner. His own fans even think he’s a bag of dicks.

Anaheim’s best chance to win this series is to get those defensemen active in the offensive zone and do a bunch of goony stuff to get the Blackhawks out of their game. The Ducks won’t be able to match the 3 solid scoring lines of the Hawks. You can bet Q is eager to get the matchups he likes against no-neck Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau. I think the Hawks have a distinct coaching advantage in this series, as Boudreau is not known to favor playing matchups, preferring to roll his four lines. If Boudreau is smart, he’ll have Getzlaf vs. Toews and Kesler vs. Kane.

That’s Anaheim’s only hope: neutralize the Hawks’ top two lines and hope for some goals from their depth players and defensemen. You have to figure the Blackhawks are the better team, top to bottom, in this series. Anaheim doesn’t have a whole lot past their top-6 forwards, a bunch of average to good-but-not-great defensemen, and a goalie that has been “good enough.” But we all know how the puck bounces. Remember the last time the Blackhawks played a playoff series in California? I’ve tried to forget too. You better believe the Hawks haven’t. After 10 days off for the Hawks and 7 for the Ducks, this should be some high-flying, back-and-forth hockey. I’m taking the safe bet by predicting the Hawks win this series in 6 games, just because Anaheim will probably get a few good bounces or a call or two to go their way.

I bet this will be an epic series. There will be times where the Blackhawks look unbeatable. Then there will be times where you wonder how they forgot to hockey. My advice would be to grab a beverage and just enjoy the ride. LET’S GO HAWKS!!!

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