Hawks-Ducks comes down to distance

March, 29, 2013
3/29/13
4:19
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau didn't downplay the significance to their final regular-season matchup on Friday.

The Blackhawks lead the Western Conference with 53 points in 32 games, and the Ducks are just behind them with 48 points in 33 games.

For the Blackhawks, Friday's game is about creating further distance from the Ducks for the No. 1 seed and about proving they can defeat the Ducks. The Blackhawks lost to the Ducks 3-2 in a shootout in Chicago on Feb. 12 and 4-2 in Anaheim on March 20 in their two meetings this season. The Blackhawks led both games in the third period.

"We want to finish as high as possible," Quenneville said of the playoff seeding after Friday's morning skate at the United Center. "We would love to be (No. 1). We'll see. This is certainly, this situation tonight, is an important game.

"They're big games. They're very meaningful when you look at the standings and the implications after the fact. They're a dangerous team. Definitely exited both games in a really disappointing note that we didn't finish what we had to do. That's motivation going into this game. Let's be excited about what's at stake."

For the Ducks, Friday's game is about moving closer to the Blackhawks in the standings and getting back on track. The Ducks have lost four consecutive games since defeating the Blackhawks on March 20. The Ducks have been outscored 16-5 during the losing streak.

"Of course, I'm worried about it," Boudreau said of the recent losses. "You guard against it. … It happens. I'm worried about it all the time because coaches worry about every loss. But I got to believe the first 29 games were not a fluke.

"It is a big game. The environment is great. But I would rather play a junior team than the Hawks. It's not like we're saying, 'Yeah, let's go, we got the Hawks tonight.' That's not the case. They're the best for a reason. They're good. The fear of getting beat badly if you're playing badly is a great motivator, so hopefully that does help us."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said he wants to defeat the Ducks, but he doesn't believe it is some major psychological hump for them to win on Friday.

"There's a lot of games in between where we play well and we win games," Toews said. "The fact we're winning games, finding ways to win games and playing the right way isn't an issue. People want to point out that we haven't won against this team yet, but I don't think that's a huge flaw.

"But obviously we want to prove ourselves. We played two good games. It's come down to the wire against the Ducks. Tonight obviously if it's the same situation comes up, we obviously want to be on top. We'll work as hard as we have to get there. Just make the smart plays and the right plays to stay there I guess and find the way to get the two points."
Scott Powers is the Blackhawks beat reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
64 27 37 10
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 27
AssistsP. Kane 37
+/-J. Toews 26
GAAC. Crawford 2.29