Hawks keeping pace in race with Ducks
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter February 4, 2014 8:55PM
Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews, right, and Anaheim Ducks' Hampus Lindholm watch the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: February 5, 2014 10:20AM
LOS ANGELES — The Blackhawks never look too far ahead, but they’ve been keeping their eyes on the Anaheim Ducks.
‘‘They’re still tops in the league,’’ forward Bryan Bickell said. ‘‘I know going into the [Olympic] break we wanted to be close to them, and we are.’’
The Hawks, 2-0-2 on their six-game road trip, are hoping to carry the momentum from Monday night’s 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings into tonight’s showdown with the Ducks at Honda Center.
The Blackhawks (34-10-14, 82 points) trail the Ducks (40-13-5, 85) by three points. But the Ducks are 4-5-0 in their last nine games after losing to Columbus 4-2 at home on Monday. They had won 18 of 19 before the Blackhawks beat them 4-2 at the United Center on Jan. 17.
‘‘It’s never good to see Chicago because they’re a great team, but it’s probably great that Chicago’s coming in,’’ Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said after losing to the Blue Jackets. ‘‘That’s maybe what we need, because if we don’t play up to our best level against a team like that, then we’re going to get our butts kicked.’’
One small step
Bickell, who was a healthy scratch against the Canucks and Sharks, felt he took a step forward against the Kings — and not just because he scored a goal.
‘‘Just to have a good 60 minutes for myself, if I score or if I don’t, I feel comfortable that I played a good game,’’ Bickell said. ‘‘I thought that was a good step for getting confidence and chemistry back out there.’’
Toews faceoff slump
Jonathan Toews, second in the NHL in face-off percentage last year (59.9 percent) and 10th this season (55.8), is 17-31 (35.4) on faceoffs in his last three games, including 5-16 against the Kings. It’s the first time this season Toews has not won 50 percent or more of his faceoffs in three consecutive games.