Corey Perry

Size matchup will be one to watch when Blackhawks meet Ducks

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According to the NHL’s media website, the Chicago Blackhawks have an average weight of 197.3 pounds. Kris Versteeg is the lightest at 176 pounds, which is only slightly lighter than Patrick Kane (177), Teuvo Teravainen (178), and Andrew Shaw (179). There are a few heavy skaters, like Bryan Bickell (223) and Brent Seabrook (220), but for the most part, this is not a gigantic team we’re talking about.

And then there’s the Anaheim Ducks, the Blackhawks’ next opponent, who boast an average weight of 207.5 pounds. Sure, Sami Vatanen, at just 180 pounds, isn’t very heavy, but Patrick Maroon (231), Ryan Getzlaf (218), and Corey Perry (213) definitely are. Did we mention those three play on the same line?

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is fully cognizant of the size disparity between the two teams. He’s not too worried about it, though.

“I think size and talent is great. But size alone is not the answer,” Bowman told the Sun-Times. “We’ve seen that more than ever with the modern game here in the last few years. It’s never been more friendly for a smaller player to play because it’s really a skill game now. If you have size in addition to that, that’s great. We like big players, too. We don’t have an aversion to that at all. Anaheim does it really well with the players they have. But there’s not one way to win.”

That being said, the size matchup will certainly be one to watch when the ‘Hawks and Ducks kick things off in the Western Conference finals. The undersized Flames had all sorts of trouble handling the big Ducks in their second-round series.

Here’s but one example of what size and strength can do:

The key for the Blackhawks will be to avoid getting cornered like that. The solution? Quick feet. Quick decisions. Quick passes. Or, as Mike Babcock likes to say, “Play fast.”

Fortunately for the Blackhawks, they’re fully capable of doing just that — and that starts with their star defenseman, Duncan Keith.

Save for the goalies, no player is likely to get more ice time in this series than the “freak” Keith, and no player’s performance may be more pivotal. Expect the Ducks to do everything they can to get to him. 

Just don’t expect them to find it easy.

Kings forward Dustin Brown, one of the NHL’s best at getting in on the forecheck, knows what it’s like to try and hunt down Keith.

“For me, it’s just his skating ability,” said Brown. “He has the ability to get himself out of trouble. He’s a real big part of that team from the back end. He’s one of those guys that plays against top guys but also has the offensive side of the game. He’s the best offensive guy on the back end and he really helps those forwards with their transition game because of his heads-up play and he moves the puck really quick.”

PHT Morning Skate: Ducks’ fan gets ‘Corey Perry is a Saint’ tattoo

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Prior to Game 5 an Anaheim Ducks fan on reddit vowed to get a tattoo of the classic Mighty Ducks logo with the words “Corey Perry Is a Saint” written around it. Well the Ducks won 3-2 in overtime on Sunday to advance to the Western Conference final and the fan made good on his promise. (Bar Down)

With Alex Ovechkin guaranteeing a Washington Capitals win in Game 7 tonight, Matt Larkin over at The Hockey News looks at the history of guaranteeing victory in sports. (The Hockey News)

Speaking of Ovechkin’s guarantee, Caps’ coach Barry Trotz applauded his captain for the confident comments.

A fan used his new Apple Watch to track his heart rate during the Rangers’ Game 6 victory on Sunday. (Puck Daddy)

According to Keith Jones, a combination of time off and confidence from Game 6 could prove beneficial for the Capitals especially against a Rangers team full of momentum.

Perry extinguishes Flames, Ducks head to conference finals

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One could argue that Corey Perry shouldn’t have even been on the ice after suffering a lower-body injury in the second period of Game 5. That’s the funny thing about sports, though: sometimes the guy on a bum leg makes the biggest difference.

The Anaheim Ducks kept pouring on chances in overtime, but Karri Ramo wouldn’t let the Calgary Flames die without the fight that was a staple of their surprising season. Ultimately, Perry punched in that final chance, winning in 3-2 in overtime to close the Flames out in five games.

Fittingly, the strong-closing Ducks finished this series with yet another third-period comeback, as Matt Beleskey scored his fifth goal of the series to tie things up 2-2.

With that, Bruce Boudreau heads to his first career postseason conference final series in his otherwise dazzling coaching career. It won’t be easy, mind you, as the Ducks get home-ice advantage but the Chicago Blackhawks hold the big-time game experience edge (at least if you consider this the “Boudreau Ducks”).

Perry scored that electric game-winner, but how healthy is he, really?

The good news for the Ducks is that he’ll get some time to heal up until that series against Chicago … assuming a few extra days would make a difference.

The Flames put together an effort that was a decent testament to their unlikely ups. Ramo was excellent (44 saves), which fits in with their streaky goaltending. More typical: Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau made big plays.

They just didn’t do enough, and now Calgary approaches an offseason in which they ponder what to do next.

Speaking of what’s next: do you take the West’s top seed (Ducks) or arguably the gold standard franchise (Blackhawks)? Either way, hockey fans are in for a treat.

Video: Corey Perry limps off after collision with Matt Stajan

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Uh oh.

That’s the phrase that entered just about every Anaheim Ducks’ fans mind – at least the censored version, for some – as they saw Corey Perry struggle off the ice following a collision with Calgary Flames forward Matt Stajan.

Judge for yourself if there was anything malicious about the low hit, which didn’t draw a penalty:

If nothing else, Perry was able to take a spin onto the ice mere moments later, so we’ll see how it goes.

With Getzlaf and Perry ‘dominating,’ Flames look for answers

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In light of all the talk about low scoring and lack of offense in these Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s worth pointing out that Anaheim’s dynamic duo of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf is on a pretty healthy tear this round — the two have combined to score 15 points in three games versus Calgary, an average of 1.6 per period.

Not per game. Per period.

Needless to say, much of the Flames’ talk prior to tomorrow’s Game 4 was about slowing those two down.

“You see guys like Getzlaf and Perry dominating the game at times,” Joe Colborne explained, per the Toronto Star. “When they’re using their big bodies and putting pressure on some of our smaller guys, we have to pick up our game and answer.”

Colborne’s words speak volumes. The Calgary defense, which was a huge factor against Vancouver in Round 1, has seen its lack of size get exposed against the Ducks; Kris Russell (5-foot-10, 173 pounds), Dennis Wideman (6-foot, 200 pounds) and TJ Brodie (6-foot-1, 182 pounds) are all giving up significant height and weight to Perry and Getzlaf, who skate on a line with another big body in 6-foot-2, 231-pound Patrick Maroon (who, it should be mentioned, has two goals in three games against Calgary.)

And make no mistake — Anaheim knows it has a definitive size advantage on the Flames.

“We’ve got to use it,” Ryan Kesler said, per the L.A. Times. “We know what made us successful this year. It’s playing that down-below-the-circle hockey, and cycling the puck and wearing them down, and if we do that we’ll be fine.”

While the Flames don’t have a ton of solutions for the size problem — it’s not like they’re going to get any bigger — head coach Bob Hartley did see some positives in the Game 3 win. Specifically? Unlike in the opening two games in Anaheim, his was no longer in awe of the Ducks’ size, speed and skill.

“It seems that the admiration for the Ducks is kind of winding down,” he said, per the Calgary Herald. “That’s good news for us.”