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MUSICK: Ducks have Hawks’ number

Published: Saturday, March 30, 2013 12:13 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, March 30, 2013 12:35 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

CHICAGO – As Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy hurriedly chased after a loose puck in the frenzied final seconds of a one-goal game, the scoreboard clock rudely descended to 00.0.

Isn’t a single zero enough?

The final horn blared across the cavernous stadium. It seemed rude, too.

Did it have to be so loud?

The Blackhawks had lost, 2-1, to the Anaheim Ducks. And a sellout crowd of 22,105 – the largest of the season, which had arrived in the mood to party on a Friday night – didn’t know what to do.

Typically, this is the time that everyone would sing and dance to that one-hit wonder.

Instead, Hawks fans grabbed their coats and clogged the aisles. The parking lots would be a mess.

“Tell Tony he’s the kiss of death!” one fan screamed to another in the upper deck.

I think he was joking. But Tony, if you’re reading this, you might want to skip the next few games.

This was supposed to be a statement game for the Hawks.

What exactly was the statement?

I think it was something along the lines of “Yawwwn… stretch… zzzzzz.”

Go figure that a Southern California team named after a water bird would be such a threat.

The high-flying Hawks had two days to prepare for the Ducks, who were the only team in the Western Conference that they had not beaten this season.

The Hawks had managed only four goals in their first two games against the Ducks, and Friday offered the final meeting of the regular season.

Make that zero for three.

Now, a few lackluster games against the same opponent should not diminish the Hawks’ terrific start. The Hawks dropped to 25-5-3, which is nothing to shake a hockey stick at, and they remain atop the conference in most goals scored and fewest goals allowed.

But Anaheim does seem to pose a problem as the playoffs approach.

At 23-7-4, the Ducks have established themselves as the conference’s best team west of the Fox River. The playoffs are less than a month way, and if the next dozen or so games hold to form, that means the Ducks will have the No. 2 seed right behind the top-seeded Hawks.

Here’s hoping another team sends Anaheim quacking, er, packing before the conference finals.

Because it’s tough to explain, but strange things happen when the Hawks play the Ducks.

Strange thing No. 1: Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook stands in front of the blue line with his team on the power play. The puck scoots to him but somehow bounces over his stick, and Seabrook loses a foot race to Ducks winger Emerson Etem, which leads to a short-handed scoring chance.

Says the crowd: “Ohhh!”

Strange thing No. 2: Hawks forward Viktor Stalberg stands near the crease as a shot by Leddy bounces off the post and ricochets directly to him. Stalberg has the puck on his stick and an open net a few feet away, but he somehow misses wide.

Says the crowd: “Ohhh!”

Strange thing No. 3: Hawks forward Jimmy Hayes charges toward the net in search of his second goal since arriving from Rockford two weeks ago. Hayes winds up for a point-blank shot, but his stick breaks as it meets the ice, and he turns toward the bench for another work tool.

Says the crowd: “Ohhh!”

Before too long, the scoreboard hits 00.0, the final horn blares, and everyone looks around.

Oh.

• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at tmusick@shawmedia.com and on Twitter @tcmusick.

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