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Mar 20, 2024 9:14 pm

Improving Blackhawks take on still-floundering Ducks

Bedard

Growing pains and lessons learned have been a huge part of the season for the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks. As they head into Thursday’s road clash with the struggling Anaheim Ducks, the Blackhawks received more schooling in their previous outing.

The Blackhawks (19-45-5, 43 points) kicked off a three-game trip through California with a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. Frustrating? Yes, as all losses are. However, the Blackhawks are buoyed by having won four of their last seven and receiving knowledge from such defeats.

“We had a good start,” coach Luke Richardson said. “We obviously couldn’t keep pace with them. They’re a big team. They’re fast. We’ve got to build our team up — our play, but also our bodies and our physicality to play with a team like this.”

Chicago was tied with Los Angeles until near the midway point, but the younger Blackhawks were unable to match their hosts when the Kings hit another gear and showed why they hold third spot in the Pacific Division.

“The first period was spot on … and then we kind of started turning some pucks over and they capitalized,” defenseman Seth Jones said. “They’re a very defensive team and they boxed us out well around the net, so we didn’t get much action there in front of the goalie. And they just kind of kept coming at us in waves and we couldn’t put a stop to it.”

The loss showed how bright the future can be for the Blackhawks. Rookie defenseman Kevin Korchinski scored for the second consecutive game while 2023 first-overall draft choice Connor Bedard collected one assist, giving him four goals and 13 points in his last seven games.

The Ducks (23-43-3, 49 points) are having a harder time finding positives in their game of late. A 4-0 home loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday has Anaheim on a seven-game skid, all regulation-time defeats, and by an aggregate score of 35-7. For the first time in franchise history, the Ducks have had two losing streaks of seven or more games in the same season. They lost eight consecutive outings in November.

“Trying to keep up the mood is not easy (after) losing seven games in a row,” forward Frank Vatrano said. “It’s not fun losing. We just have to get back on track soon.”

The Ducks, who lost 7-2 at the Blackhawks last week, have been shut out in three of four outings.

Pick a part of their game and it has been a struggle. The Ducks, who dealt away veteran forwards Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick prior to the trade deadline and are without key defenseman Radko Gudas due to injury, are hurting at both ends of the rink.

Anaheim, which has been held to two or fewer goals in nine consecutive outings, has managed only one power-play goal in its past 10 games. The Ducks have surrendered 15 power-play goals in the past seven outings, four in their last meeting with Chicago.

Anaheim coach Greg Cronin said his team must battle harder in all areas.

“We’re below 30 percent on faceoffs,” Cronin said, according to the Orange County Register. “I don’t know what the stat is on teams that are around 30 percent on draws, but I don’t think it’s a good one.”

–Field Level Media

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