Blackhawks

Ducks look to be Game 7 aggressors against Blackhawks

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Ducks look to be Game 7 aggressors against Blackhawks

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks liked what they did through those early third-period minutes of Game 6. It just took them too long to get to that point.

“I don’t know if it was nerves or waiting to see things happen,” said Ryan Getzlaf, “We were on our heels, not going forward, until we were down, to pour it on.”

The Ducks were pouring it on in that third period before Andrew Shaw thwarted their momentum, and their chance to close the series, in the Blackhawks’ 5-2 Game 6 victory. Now it comes down to Saturday night when the Ducks host the Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final.

[MORE: Blackhawks benefit from extra day's rest prior to Game 7]

Anaheim has been through this before. The Ducks have been asked and have answered questions about failing at Game 7s before. For them, however, it’s not about responding to previous Game 7s; it’s about responding to Game 6, in which they didn’t react to the Blackhawks’ onslaught in time.

“I think both teams in the first period [of Game 6] it was, ‘let’s see what the other team does before we react.’ And then we didn’t react and in 3 1/2 minutes they had three goals,’” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Once we scored, we thought, ‘oh, man, we’re in a hockey game. There’s a good chance they’ll score first, so we have to make sure we keep our composure, keep coming at them and not go, ‘damn, they scored. Woe is me.’

“We have to have a strong mental game tomorrow as well as a strong systemized game,” Boudreau continued. “[Being] mentally strong is going to be a big advantage for someone.”

The Blackhawks have used that mental toughness to get them through some critical series the past few postseasons. It helped get them out of the second round and to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013. It just about got them back there in 2014. As for the Ducks, there are enough players remaining from that 2007 Cup team, Getzlaf and Corey Perry among them, to know what it takes to advance at this juncture.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“We were waiting for something to happen last game. Eventually it did. We were on the wrong side of it,” Perry said. “I mean, if we play the way we did in Game 5 at the start of the first period and continue that all the way through, we're going to be good. That's the way we have to play.”

The Ducks didn’t like how long it took them to react in Game 6. It was a far cry from Game 5, when they came out and dominated and the Blackhawks were the group that wasn’t reacting fast enough. The Ducks know they won’t get anywhere if they sit back and wait. They’ve got home-ice advantage and a chance to exorcise the demons of Game 7s past.

“When we play to our capabilities, when we push the pace and we're on our toes, we feel like we're a difficult team to compete with,” Cam Fowler said. “We need to have that mindset tomorrow regardless of the situation or the magnitude of where we are. We need to come out as the aggressors. We need to stick with what got us here and take that into tomorrow's game.”

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.