Western finals: Ducks, Blackhawks haven't shown many weaknesses

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

The best have survived in the West.

Generally speaking, most analysts believed Anaheim and Chicago had the deepest and best rosters all season.

Now, they get each other.

"We know all about their reputation and everything, but we're focused on how good we can be," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said of the Blackhawks, who've won Stanley Cups in 2010 and 2013. "We know we're up against a team that's got a great mindset and that didn't win the Cup last year and is probably a little angry about that."

Getting to this point has been impressive — for both teams.

The Ducks have played one game over the minimum through two rounds, while the Blackhawks have played two.

Simply, both teams haven't shown many weaknesses.

"We feel like if you progress in the (playoffs), you've got to elevate your game to beat teams that have got a lot of confidence and they've got to be playing the right way," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "They've got a lot of things going for them. You look at the first two rounds, they played extremely well. So we've got to raise it."

1 Anaheim vs. 2 Chicago

Series: Chicago 2-1-0

How they got here: Anaheim — d. Winnipeg in 4, d. Calgary in 5. Chicago — d. Nashville in 6, d. Minnesota in 4.

Key player: Anaheim C Ryan Kesler. The Livonia native was a nightmare for the Blackhawks when he was with the Canucks — if not on offense, then agitating Blackhawks players. If Kesler can provide that in this series, it would help.

Prediction: Anaheim in 6


■How healthy is Corey Perry (lower body)?

The Anaheim forward, who leads all scorers with 15 points (seven goals) in the playoffs, has missed two days of practice. Not having an effective Perry would damage Anaheim's chances of advancing.

■Who will replace Michal Rozsival (broken left ankle)?

The Chicago defenseman averaged more than 17 minutes, and his loss will be felt. Replacing Rozsival will be David Rundblad, who has yet to play in the postseason. What'll likely happen is more playing time for the Big Four — Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya — which could wear them down in a long series.

■Will the real Corey Crawford stand up.

After a sub-par first-round, the Blackhawks goaltender was sensational against the Wild. On paper, the Blackhawks have an edge given Crawford's resume (2013 Stanley Cup) and Ducks G Frederik Andersen's lack of experience.

■Which team's cast of star forwards is better?

Few teams can boast better, deeper four lines than Anaheim or Chicago. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf (12 points) have been outstanding, but nine other Ducks forwards have at least one point, and 10 have at least one goal. Chicago RW Patrick Kane has a seven-game point streak and C Jonathan Toews (11 points) has been clutch. Chicago's third line of C Antoine Vermette between LW Patrick Sharp and RW Teuvo Teravainen was excellent against Minnesota.

■Can Chicago's penalty-kill stop Anaheim's power play?

The Ducks are a blistering 31 percent (9-for-29) on the power play, and have scored two in a game four times. LW Matt Beleskey has a five-game goal-scoring streak, including two on the power play. Chicago has struggled throughout the playoffs on the penalty-kill, and was 72.7 percent (8-for-11) against Minnesota.


All games on NBCSN and CBC unless noted

Sunday: at Anaheim, 3 p.m. NBC

Tuesday: at Anaheim, 9 p.m.

Thursday: at Chicago, 8 p.m.

Saturday, May 23: at Chicago, 8 p.m.

x-Monday, May 25: at Anaheim, 9 p.m.

x-Wednesday, May 27: at Chicago, 8 p.m.

x-Saturday, May 30: at Anaheim, 8 p.m.

x-if necessary