Blackhawks

Ducks quickly shift their attention to Blackhawks

ducksslide051115.png

Ducks quickly shift their attention to Blackhawks

The Blackhawks — who will be playing in their fifth Conference Final in the last seven seasons — know the feeling of being one series away from the Stanley Cup Final. 

It's been a while for the Anaheim Ducks, who haven't gone this deep in the postseason since 2007 when they won it all.

But they didn't have much time to let it soak in after their series-clinching overtime win over the Calgary Flames late Sunday night.

"The instant it happened, I felt really good. ... It was a pretty nice win, so I think I'm allowed five minutes of joy," Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said in a conference call Monday. "But a half hour later, I was thinking about Chicago."

[MORE: Blackhawks know the test they'll face in Ducks]

Particularly, how he can slow down a Blackhawks team that won two of three regular-season contests, and outscored Anaheim by five this year. 

While he hasn't revealed the line pairings yet, Boudreau knows he'll have his hands full establishing matchups.

"We're dealing with a team that knows how to win in the playoffs, has the experience and talent to back it up," Boudreau said. "They are arguably the fastest group of forwards, and you add [Duncan] Keith and [Johnny] Oduya and some of those on the back end, and they're probably the fastest team in the NHL."

[MORE: Patrick Kane hitting his postseason stride]

The two teams last met on Jan. 30, but both their rosters have changed since then and both are playing at higher levels. 

The Ducks — motivated by ridding the bad taste in their mouth from last year's postseason after letting a 3-2 series lead slip away against Los Angeles in the second round — know this is familiar territory for the Blackhawks. 

But the Ducks are also a group that feels they have much to prove.

"Every round is tougher. To be able to win, you have to be better than you were before," Boudreau said. "... They're good and we know what to expect. We know what playoff hockey is about, too. We know we're better than when we played them in the regular season."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

2-21_senators_matchup_nhl_chi_blank.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

2-19_anisimov_kings_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: