Anaheim wants you to think of them as the league's best team. Badly. They've certainly played like it over the last two months, taking the league by storm and cementing themselves at the top of a ridiculously competitive Western Conference.
Not so fast.
Just when the Ducks had finally muscled their way into consideration as the league's best team, the Chicago Blackhawks reminded everyone why they're still the class of the NHL with a 4-2 win on Friday. The loss ended Anaheim's eight-game win streak.
It was one of the most complete games of the season for the Blackhawks, who managed to keep the Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry line off the scoreboard for most of the game while pouring shots on Jonas Hiller at the other end. By the end of two periods, the Ducks trailed 2-0 and were getting outshot 26-11, a far cry from most situations they've been in over the last month or so.
While there's really no question Anaheim is a truly dominant team, the Ducks have done most of their eye-popping damage at home this season, where they have yet to lose a single game in regulation.
The fact is, the Ducks simply aren't getting the same level of production at both ends of the ice on the road as they are at home. Andrew Cogliano (11 goals at home, five on the road) and Nick Bonino (10 goals at home, five on the road) haven't contributed as much away from the Honda Center. Anaheim has given up 81 goals on the road, the third-most in the NHL.
Those same problems surfaced again on Friday. Anaheim's depth couldn't rise to the occasion while their top line suffocated and the team leaked scoring opportunities. They were simply outhustled, outchanced and outplayed by the Blackhawks all night long.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said it best after the game.
"With all the press that we've gotten in the last two days, some guys maybe just weren't ready for this. It's a learning experience. To be on top, there's a commitment you have to make just being there or you don't stay there very long."
Marian Hossa led the way for Chicago with two goals. Hossa is essentially the personification of Chicago's staying power right now. Lingering back issues and age led many to believe he would begin slowing down this season. Instead, the veteran is on pace for 75 points.
Much like Hossa, the Blackhawks have yet to show any signs of relinquishing their place among the NHL's elite. The Ducks showed Friday they still need to prove they belong in that conversation long-term.