"I'm telling you, it's KEH-sha! Not KEEE-sha! And she's (*OOOF!*) HOT!

What, YOU again? Hawks visit Canuckleheads

Canada is known for its pacifism, however if you wear a Blackhawks jersey in downtown Vancouver you’re likely to get the snot beaten out of you. Mention the Canucks in Chicago, and the response will likely be, “Yeah, we’ve had their number for years.” Mention the ‘Hawks in Vancouver, and you’re likely to get spit on. They HAAAAYYYYTTTEEE us up there. And with good reason.

We bounced them out of the playoffs the last two years in a row, when they were convinced that they were going all the way.

This year they just might. They have three of the top-performing offensive threats in the Western Conference in the Sedin Sisters and Ryan Kesler who is having a career year. They are first in the league, running away with the Western Conference, and making the other teams in their division look like AHL clubs by comparison.

The question mark, as always, is goaltending. Roberto Luongo is a head case. Get 3 goals behind him, and he’s done for the night — period. The Blackhawks exploited this masterfully during the playoffs the last two years, and we’ve taken two out of three from them so far this season — including a 7 – 1 beat-down up at GM Place. Neither Bobby Lu nor Corey Schneider could withstand the Blackhawks’ 41-shot barrage that night.

So what will tonight entail? The Canucks are on a 4-game winning streak, and are starting a 4-game home stand tonight with Chicago in town. The ‘Hawks are well-rested and have all of their key players in the lineup, and just notched a sloppy but reassuring 7 – 4 win over Columbus the other night. On paper, with the Canucks dominating the West and the Blackhawks struggling for a playoff spot, it looks like a no-brainer. But in reality, this could go either way.

Goaltending is a question mark on the Blackhawks’ side also. The last meeting with Coach Prissy-Boy’s club we handed them a 3 – 0 shutout with Marty Turco in goal. Turco will get his second straight start tonight — something that hasn’t happened since his last two consecutive losses in late December — and we’ll know by the end of the first period if Coach Joel Quenneville made the right call.

Offensively for the Blackhawks it’s been a mixed bag. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa all scored during the win over the Blue Jackets (we’ll give Hoss credit, he did hustle to get the puck on that empty-netter), but overall our offense looked disjointed. Dave Bolland and Viktor Stalberg contributed from the forward ranks, and defensemen Duncan Keith and Nick Leddy both tallied on the back end.

This is good, but it doesn’t reflect the Blackhawks’ overall play. Their confidence is down, their execution is shaky, and it reflects in their playmaking ability. The power play looks crisp: their play at even strength looks tentative. Maybe it was just working out the cobwebs after the All-Star break, but overall I was not thrilled to see their breakouts falter and their milquetoast attempts to enter the attacking zone. That will need to get sharpened up, or the Vancouver back-checkers will pick us apart.

Notable for their absence: on the Canucks’ side, Sami Salo is still rehabbing, though he made a step forward by taking a conditioning assignment with the Manitoba Moose this week; the Canucks had six rookies called up and in the lineup for their game against Phoenix on Wednesday, their blueline having been decimated with injuries and illness; for the Blackhawks, John Scott is reported down with the flu (hey, go give Nick Boynton a big wet smooch, will ya big guy?), and Ryan Johnson will not make his first appearance against his former team tonight due to a lower-body injury.

Late start tonight: 9pm Chicago time. It’s a nation-wide broadcast for Canadian fans on TSN; WGN will have the game here in Chicago; broadcast radio is WGN AM-720; and XM subscribers should dial in on channel 209.

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  • Canuck In Oz

    Morning, everyone. Gave this a few hours for all you Blackhawk fans to settle down after that loss in Vancouver tonight. Couple of things I’d like to clarify.

    Vancouver doesn’t HAAAAYYYYTTTEEE the Hawks. Grudging admiration is the key, since we know we’ll have a challenge every time we play you, which, frankly, we haven’t had too much of this year.

    Also, pity that the Sedin twins were instrumental tonight against your team, scoring the winner and all that. Kind of like, I dunno, kissing your sister or something.

    There seems to be a train of thought that the refs were on Vancouver’s side tonight. Goal disallowed, and all that. Just on that, what was the deal with Turco nailing Kesler in the nethers? Very unsporting. Anyway, both teams had 4 powerplays, and I guess, if you hadn’t gone donut on the power play and done a bit better on the penalty kill, I’d probably be in a dark room, eating a s*** sandwich. But that’s all hypothetical now.

    How did you think that Lu played tonight? I mean, considering that, you know, you said that getting three games basically means his mind’ll go into shutdown. Oh yeah, and the 41 shot game last time. Well, three goals on 45 shots tonight…I’d say he played pretty well, myself. Some of those saves. Incredible.

    Anyway, good luck with your playoff run. Would really be embarrassing if you win a Cup one year and then miss the playoffs the next. 60% of remaining games on the road. Hope a lot of them are against teams like Toronto, Edmonton and the Islanders.

    • hawksfan

      Embarrassing? What is embarrassing is that Canucks got kicked out from playoffs 2 years in row by the same team. You can go ahead and get President Trophy and then stick it in your Canuck’s ass because you will get kicked out again, and this time in the first round.

      • Canuck In Oz

        Dude, I understand you’re angry about losing to Vancouver. But really – did it have to take you two days to come up with that witty comment? Besides – both years Chicago had more points than Vancouver, so realistically (even though in 08/09 Vancouver was seeded 3rd & Chicago 4th due to the stupid nature of the seedings), the playoffs just followed the natural order…that is, both years, the Hawks were the better team, and therefore – there was no embarrassment. Just pain. Lots and lots of pain…and who is going to kick us out of the first round? Really – Luongo has lost 8 games in his forty games. Think that he’ll lose four out of seven in the first round?

  • anon

    Hey thanks for the 2 points ;)