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Home Road Trip Ducks look to clean up sloppy play in Chicago to start road trip – Orange County Register

Ducks look to clean up sloppy play in Chicago to start road trip – Orange County Register

by Staff

The Ducks face the struggling Chicago Blackhawks and their high scoring rookie center Connor Bedard on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The Ducks blew into the Windy City for Tuesday’s matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks, who will enter the contest tied with the San Jose Sharks for the fewest points in the NHL.

Even though the Ducks have struggled for much of the year, they have 10 more points in the standings than Chicago and a goal differential that’s 33 ticks above that of the ‘Hawks. So, is this a winnable game that could provide a soft landing after three wins in four matches gave way to two bootings by an aggregate score of 12-3?

“I’m not even thinking about that, we’ve got to clean up, come on, this is not acceptable,” said Coach Greg Cronin after a match that saw the New York Islanders score six goals on just 19 shots, largely due to his club’s cornucopia of mental lapses and self-inflicted wounds.

Veteran Cam Fowler echoed some of Cronin’s sentiments and then discussed the forthcoming four-game road trip, which will take the Ducks to Chicago, Minnesota, Winnipeg and St. Louis.

“We have to continue to build as a group. We play to win every game but we’re more focused on the process right now, and the way that we’re playing the games,” he said.

“We can live with certain results if we know that we’re going out there, giving it our best shot and playing the right way,” Fowler continued. “The ones that sting are the ones like (the Islanders game) where there isn’t a whole lot going on and we’re doing some good things defensively but then we have brain lapses that end up costing us.”

These two teams met in Chicago earlier on Dec. 7 in what was a showdown of 2023’s No. 1 overall pick, Chicago’s Connor Bedard, and the No. 2 selection, the Ducks’ Leo Carlsson. Bedard chipped in an assist on the Blackhawks’ lone goal in that game but the thunder was stolen from the two wunderkind forwards by veteran goalie Petr Mrazek and his 37-save shutout.

Carlsson will be out of action with a concussion (he should return later in the trip, likely in Minnesota, GM Pat Verbeek told season-ticket members last week), but Bedard will be very much in action with his dazzling array of dangles and dekes.

He leads all rookies with 46 points in a season where only five neophytes have topped 30, despite the fact that he missed 14 games due to injury. Bedard also leads all rookies in goals with 19, living up to his billing as the most hyped prospect since Edmonton’s Connor McDavid.

More ignominiously, Bedard sits in front of only his teammate Philipp Kurashev (minus-39) for the worst plus-minus rating in the NHL at minus-37. That’s also been a significant reflection of a poor quality roster that’s gotten poorer due to injuries and departures, such as that of former Ducks Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry after his contract was terminated earlier this season.

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