(Photo: Anaheim Ducks)

As the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks prepare for Sunday’s start of the best of seven Western Conference Final, there’s been a bit of feather-ruffling going on.

Perhaps it’s the long respite between series–10 days for Chicago and seven for Anaheim–but the teams are using their press time to get into each other’s heads. This chirping is a practice I’d enjoy from an impartial bystander perspective, but as a fan I grow concerned about the juju.

So, were I a Washington Capitals fan, I would have panicked when, going into a game seven, these words came out of Alexander Ovechkin‘s mouth:

“We’re going to come back and win the series. We’re going to play our game, and we’re going to come back and we’re going to play Montreal or Tampa.”

And, sure enough…the hockey gods would not allow it, with a tight overtime loss Wednesday night.

So, then, imagine how I felt when pesky Andrew Shaw chose the following words to answer the many questions about the Hawks-Ducks size difference.

“The bigger they are, the harder they fall, I guess.”

Sigh. Yes. The Ducks are certainly bigger. But, Shaw, little guy (5’11”, 179 pounds) be careful with the talk of toppling them.

The Ducks’ team has an average weight of 207.5 pounds. The top line  averages 6’3″ tall and 221 pounds. Patrick Maroon is 231, Ryan Getzlaf weighs in at 218, and Corey Perry is 213. Ryan Kesler hits 208.

They have six players on their roster under 6’0″ tall and one player, Brandon Montour, under 180 pounds. He is 6’0″ and 172.

Big guys help make plays like these happen:

The Blackhawks, by contrast, average 10.2 pounds lighter. While they also have six men under 6’0″, they have four players weighing under 180–Patrick Kane (5’11”, 177), Teuvo Teravainen (5’11”, 178), and Kris Versteeg (5’11”, 176).

Chicago’s “big guys” are defenseman Brent Seabrook (6’3″, 220) and forward Bryan Bickell (6’4″, 223), while the Ducks have six skaters hitting the scales at over 215 pounds–Getzlaf is 6’4″, Tim Jackman (6’2″, 224), Maroon (6’2″), Mark Fistric (6’2″, 225), Josh Manson (6’3″, 217), and Jaycob Megna (6’5″, 218).

A couple of the little guys aren’t too scared, though. They told the Chicago Sun-Times that brawn doesn’t necessarily make the difference.

“It’s all about speed,” Teravainen said. “And usually smaller guys are faster. Especially in the playoffs, the game is really, really fast, and you have to be in really great physical shape.”

And Kane doesn’t expect his line to match up against the big Ducks.

“There are still obviously a lot of dominant players that are big and strong, like the Perrys and Getzlafs of the world. But when you’re on the ice, especially for me, I don’t tend to think about my size, if I’m bigger or smaller than a guy,” he said. “If I go in and try to change my game completely against a bigger team, it’s just going to end up working out [poorly] for me.”

Kane hasn’t had many problems so far this postseason, even with an early return from an injury expected to sideline him until now. He’s put up 13 points in 10 games–and had two game-winning goals in the last series.

Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman said the modern skill game now has been friendlier to smaller players.

“If you have size in addition to that, that’s great. We like big players, too,” he said. “We don’t have an aversion to that at all. Anaheim does it really well with the players they have. But there’s not one way to win.”

Speed and skill help make these things happen:

By the numbers, the Ducks and Hawks have a pretty interesting matchup, despite their size and style differences.

“It’s going to be one heck of a series,” Perry said. “They’re a great team. When you put two teams together, it’s going to be a great series. They’re a skating club, and they’re kind of similar to Calgary. They’ve got a lot of speed, a lot of skill, and you’ve got to be ready to step in front of them and eliminate their time and space, and if we do that, we’ll be all right.”

Kesler, who has nine points (four goals, five assists) in nine postseason game, including a game-winning,  first round series-clinching goal against the Winnipeg Jets, was a little more enthusiastic.

As much as he can give it on the ice, he played an off-ice game, too, when talking to Ducks Daily. He fired a shot at the Hawks.

“A good team, fast team,” Kesler said of Chicago. “A beatable team, though.”

Kesler faced the Hawks before in the postseason, from 2009-2011 with the then pretty ugly rival Vancouver Canucks. The Hawks took two out of three of those series, ultimately winning the championship in 2010.

Perhaps he’s trying to psyche them out. Maybe he’s vocalizing his own mental preparation.

Either way, these two teams have plenty of time to stew before Sunday’s faceoff.

“Ten days between games is a long stretch, and you want to make sure that you try different things and make sure you’re stimulated coming into it, as well,” Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville said. “We try to simulate as much game situations as we can, and try to get the pace to be game situational and work off of that.”

Hopefully in that time the Hawks will keep their chirping in check, and Shaw will say a few “Hail Marys” to Lord Stanley, you know, because it’s the Cup.

 

The Schedule

  • Game 1: 2:00 p.m. CT Sun. May 17 in Anaheim, broadcast on NBC, CBC, and TVA Sports
  • Game 2: 8:00 p.m. CT Tues. May 19 in Anaheim, broadcast on NBCSN, CBC, and TVA Sports
  • Game 3: 7:00 p.m. CT Thurs. May 21 in Chicago, broadcast on NBCSN, CBC, and TVA Sports
  • Game 4: 7:00 p.m. CT Sat. May 23 in Chicago, broadcast on NBC, CBC, and TVA Sports

IF NEEDED:

  • Game 5: 8:00 p.m. CT Mon. May 25 in Anaheim, broadcast on NBCSN, CBC, and TVA Sports
  • Game 6: 7:00 p.m. CT Wed. May 27 in Chicago, broadcast on NBCSN, CBC, and TVA Sports
  • Game 7: 7:00 p.m. CT Sat. May 30 in Anaheim, broadcast on NBCSN, CBC, and TVA Sports

 

(As always, click the bold links for video clips or other information. Gifs via Stephanie Vail @myregularface)

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

1 COMMENT

Leave a Reply