The Chicago Blackhawks are atop ESPN's NHL Power Rankings for another week and have put some room between themselves and most of the Western Conference with their 15-game points streak, but there's one team that keeps on hanging around so far -- the Anaheim Ducks.
The Western Conference has started to shape up a bit with about 30 percent of the 48-game game season completed. The Blackhawks have proven to be the team to beat and have a buffer of eight or more points over 13 conference teams. The Ducks are the only one so far to be prove themselves as a true threat.
The Ducks, who are No. 2 in ESPN's rankings, have a game in hand and with 23 points through 14 games and are just four points behind the Blackhawks. The Ducks are 11-2-1 overall and are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.
The Ducks have lost twice in regulation, unlike the Blackhawks, but they have also capitalized in shootouts, which the Blackhawks haven't been able to do as often. The Ducks are 3-1 in shootouts, and the Blackhawks are 1-3. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said recently he was concerned about his team's shootout record.
The two teams squared off last week for the first time this season, and there wasn't much that separated them. Both teams were close in shots, hits, faceoffs, power plays, penalty, kills and goaltending. They skated to a tie through three periods and overtime. The Ducks continued their shootout success and walked away with two points to the Blackhawks' one at the United Center.
There's plenty of hockey to still be played, but the Western Conference could very well come down to the Blackhawks and Ducks. They have two games remaining with each other. They'll play in Anaheim on March 20 and in Chicago on March 29.