Chicago sits atop the Western Conference standings with a 24-2-3 record, but it has only a five-point lead over Anaheim (21-3-4), which also has a game in hand.
This is the second of three meetings between these clubs this season. The Ducks currently have a 1-0 head-to-head advantage because of their 2-1 shootout victory over the Blackhawks on Feb. 12 in Chicago.
Even though it's only a regular-season game and both teams are close to clinching a playoff spot, all these players will want to win this game and make a statement to their opponent and the rest of the league.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews talked about this matchup Tuesday, and wasn't shy about describing its importance (via Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times):
Let's look at five things you need to know about Wednesday's Western Conference showdown.
The Chicago Blackhawks captivated the hockey world with their record-setting 24-game point streak to start the season, which ended March 8 with a 6-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
With that streak over, the Ducks now have the longest point streak in the league at 11 games. Anaheim has not been on a point streak of this length since the 2006-07 season, when they opened the year by going 16 straight without a regulation loss.
Since the start of February, Anaheim has taken at least one point from 21 of its 23 games.
During their impressive point streak, the Ducks have outscored opponents 35-19 despite converting on just five of 26 power-play opportunities in that span.
Even with superstar winger Corey Perry missing the last three games because of a four-game suspension (he will return Friday vs. Detroit), the Ducks still have found ways to win and are 2-0-1 without him in the lineup.
For the Ducks to extend their point streak into April, they will need to survive a very tough schedule for the rest of March that includes two games each against the Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings.
The Blackhawks and Ducks are two of the best teams in the NHL at erasing early deficits and earning comeback victories.
Since both teams have many veteran players who don't panic when an opponent scores first, it's not surprising that these teams find ways to win games even when they don't start well and trail after the first period.
Here are some interesting stats involving these two teams in regard to comeback victories.
- The Ducks' eight wins (8-2-1) when trailing after the first period are the most in the NHL.
- The Ducks are the only team with a record above .500 when trailing after two periods (4-2-1).
- The Ducks have the best winning percentage (.786) and the most wins (11) when allowing the first goal of a game.
- Chicago is 10-1-3 when allowing the first goal, and their one loss in this scenario is the fewest total in the league.
- With a 3-2-1 record, the Blackhawks have the second-best win percentage (.500) when trailing after two periods.
The Blackhawks and Ducks have high-powered offenses (ranked second and fourth in goals scored, respectively) that are capable of scoring goals in bunches, which means that no lead is safe against these teams. A complete 60-minute effort is required to have success against Chicago and Anaheim.
The Blackhawks are the NHL's best road team, with a 13-1-2 record away from the United Center. This makes them the toughest opponent for the Ducks to face with a franchise-record 12-game home winning streak on the line in Wednesday night's matchup.
Chicago is the only team that has lost just once in regulation on the road, and it has won the first three of its current four-game road trip that ends in Anaheim. In those three games, the Blackhawks have outscored their opponents 15-3.
Anaheim has been dominant at the Honda Center this season with a 12-1-0 record, which includes 12 straight games on home ice. The Ducks are also one of two teams with just one regulation loss at home (Chicago is the other).
The Blackhawks score the second-most goals on the road and the Ducks allow the fourth-fewest goals at home, so it will be interesting to see which team's success continues.
If there's one stat you need to know for Wednesday's epic matchup between the Blackhawks and Ducks, it's the following note that TSN has provided via Twitter.
This stat helps prove why these two teams are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
No matter what kind of style their opponents play, both of these teams are capable of having success in a high-scoring game or a defensive battle.
Chicago and Anaheim are also the only two teams in the NHL that rank in the top five in goals scored and goals against.
|Team||Goals For||Goals Against|
|Blackhawks||3.3 (2nd)||2.0 (2nd)|
|Ducks||3.2 (4th)||2.4 (5th)|
If one of these teams reaches the Stanley Cup Final, they will be the favorites to hoist the best trophy in sports regardless of who wins the Eastern Conference.
All great teams find ways to win close games, and the Ducks and Blackhawks are two of the best teams in the NHL in these types of situations.
|Team||1GG Win %||1GG W/L/OT||2GG Win %||2GG W/L/OT|
The first meeting between these two teams went into shootout, and it wouldn't be surprising if Wednesday's game was another defensive battle. Both clubs play very well defensively and don't give up a lot of quality scoring chances.
No player will want to make the mistake that costs his team a victory, so don't expect a high-scoring game despite the fact that these teams also have two of the most talented offenses in the league.
The key for Anaheim will be to score the first goal. One of the reasons why the Blackhawks win consistently on the road is because they usually open the scoring. Chicago is 14-1 when it scores the first goal.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL lead writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. He was a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and 2012 NHL playoffs.