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Ducks, Blackhawks Look To Stay Hot While Flames Burn To Get Back On Track Saturday

Posted by Don Melrose on 12/26/2014 12:22:17 PM

The Anaheim Ducks have overcome a ton of injuries and illness issues to maintain their position atop the Western Conference standings but for as good as they have been to this point there is still a couple of teams right behind them in the standings. The Chicago Blackhawks are one of them as they have left little room for error in the race to secure home ice advantage for the playoffs. However, while the Ducks still have their work cut out for them the rest of the way they are still in a much better situation than a number of other teams including of course the lowly Edmonton Oilers.

Anaheim Ducks @ Arizona Coyotes

Saturday, 8:00 PM ET

Arizona got back in the win column by handing the Oilers a 5-1 loss, which is pretty good for a team that ranks 25th in the NHL with just 2.3 goals per game. The Coyotes are just 3-6-1 over their last 10 games and even on home ice they are completely outmatched by Anaheim. The Ducks have won eight of their last 10 and are 12-5-2 on the road this season. Anaheim will also have Cory Perry back in the lineup after he missed a couple of weeks with a knee injury and he will undoubtedly have an immediate impact.

Pick: Anaheim

Chicago Blackhawks @ Colorado Avalanche

Saturday, 9:00 PM ET

The Blackhawks rank fifth in the NHL in goals per game and no other team has a better goals against average. Factor in the league’s top-ranked penalty kill and the fact that Chicago has been so good despite missing both Patrick Sharp and Corey Crawford each for an extended period is incredible. Colorado has been one of the bigger disappointments early on in Patrick Roy’s second year and that has had a lot to do with a young team being in a transition phase. The Avalanche will get better as the year progresses but they aren’t going to take down the streaking Blackhawks this weekend.

Pick: Chicago

Edmonton Oilers @ Calgary Flames

Saturday, 10:00 PM ET

Edmonton’s latest slide has reached eight straight losses and while that is a lot for the Oilers and their fans to handle the next team on their schedule can’t afford to lose its focus. Calgary has lost 2-7-1 to fall to ninth in the Western Conference standings and while they may be further along the curve than Edmonton they can’t afford to drop many more points against inferior teams. The Holiday break came at a welcome time for a Flames team that has much more to offer and they simply have to get back on track this Saturday night against their provincial rivals.

Pick: Calgary

San Jose Sharks @ Los Angeles Kings

Saturday, 10:00 PM ET

The memory of last year’s collapse against Los Angeles is still very much present for the Sharks and we should see another effort similar to the season opener when San Jose spoiled the Stanley Cup banner raise for the Kings. San Jose has struggled with consistency all year but after another late collapse cost them a point in an overtime loss to the Ducks before the break they will enter this game with a very strong focus. LA’s offense finally began to heat up before the break but the Sharks will approach this contest like it’s a playoff game and it might be difficult for the Kings to match that intensity even with the home ice advantage.

Pick: San Jose

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