If any team knows what the Ducks are going through these days, it's the Blackhawks.
The Ducks' current run of 18 victories in 19 games -- only the second time that has been done in NHL history -- is reminiscent of the Hawks' record-setting run of 24 consecutive games without a regulation loss to start last season.
"It seems like everything goes your way and every bounce you can get happens on your side," Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford said. "But there's a reason for that too. You have to be working hard and putting yourself in the right position to get those bounces."
The Ducks have rampaged through the league this season to post a 36-8-5 record and seize the top spot in the Western Conference. They have a six-point lead over the Hawks heading into Friday night's showdown at the United Center.
"We're aware of where they are and how they have been playing and what kind of streak they're on," Crawford said. "On the ice, it's more about our team and how we're playing rather than trying to counter whatever they're doing. We want to make the pace and not react to what they're doing."
With two Stanley Cups in the last four years and as a frequent resident at the top of the conference, the Hawks are used to being the team against which all others measure themselves. On Friday, it will be the defending champions who will be using the Ducks to see where they stand.
"We've been having quote-unquote struggles lately compared to what we're used to, so it would be nice to get a good win under our belt, maybe end their little run and get some points back on them," winger Brandon Bollig said.
Added coach Joel Quenneville, whose team has dropped four of its last five games: "It's a great test for us. They're on an amazing run. Game in and game out they're a hard team to play against and they have a lot of guys contributing."
The Ducks aren't just winning games, they are mauling many opponents. Wednesday night they trounced the Canucks 9-1 and set franchise records for goals and power-play goals (six) in a single game in the process. They sit atop the NHL standings through 49 games, the deepest point in a season the club ever has led the league.
"When a team is doing well and kind of running through teams, especially 9-1, you definitely want to maybe bring them down to earth," Bollig said. "Just like I'm sure other teams kind of look at us when we're on good streaks, we've had this one circled on our calendars a bit. We're looking to really run them out of the building."
The Hawks will focus much of their attention on talented forwards Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, who have a combined 50 goals and 58 assists -- but not all of it.
"Anaheim has a lot of offensive skill, it's not just Perry and Getzlaf," Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "They have four or five other guys you have to be aware of on the ice. They have good, puck-moving defensemen and a good goalie (in Jonas Hiller). They're definitely the team to beat right now."
For their part, the Ducks won't be taking the Hawks for granted even though they have won the last five meetings between the teams.
"The minute you feel you have Chicago's number, they're going to score seven," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau told the Los Angeles Times. "We come in knowing we have to play our absolute best."
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