9 PM, Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC
Radio: 720 AM WGN
Tonight is the 3rd meeting of the year between the Chicago Blackhawks and the team everyone loves to hate, the Vancouver Canucks. The road team has won each of the first two meetings this year. There are many givens that will happen tonight. The sight of the Sedins will make me think of the “Children of the Corn”. Every time I hear the name Alex Burrows I will be tempted to bite someone or at least pull their hair. Alain Vigneault will complain and cause me to throw beer cans at my TV. I will scream “DIVE” at least 13 times. Just a typical Blackhawks/Canucks game.
One thing that will be missing is Roberto Luongo doing at least one stupid thing to bring me to tears with laughter. That won’t happen because Vigneault has decided to start Corey Schneider in net (how many creepy gingers does this team have?), who lost to the Hawks 5-1 on November 16th. AV is not doing his fragile goalie any favors by sitting him out against teams like Chicago and Boston. Makes it look like he protecting Bobby Lu. You wouldn’t think you would have to protect a 72 million dollar goalie, but apparently you do!
Vancouver has the best power play in the NHL at 23%. The Blackhawks must stay out of the box, which is hard to do playing a team full of guys you just want to punch in the face. If you recall, back on Novemver 6th, the Hawks felt the full fury of the Canucks very talented power play, by giving up 5 PPGs in a 6-2 loss. The Canucks also boast the 6th best penalty kill in the league by killing off 85.4 % of their penalties. Special teams will play a big role in the outcome as they always seem to do when these two teams meet. The Canucks will be without the services of Aaron Volpatti and former Blackhawk Andrew Ebbett.
The Blackhawks start a very long 9 game road trip tonight and try to snap a 2 game losing streak. Jonathan Toews will return to the lineup tonight from a wrist injury. I’m a little nervous about his return against a team like the Canucks, who let’s be honest, is full of clowns. A popular Canucks blog even went as far as naming the #1 key to the game “targeting Toews’ hand”. Patrick Sharp is questionable to return tonight. He did practice with the team yesterday, but according to some of the beat reporter on site, he did not look ready to return.
Dave Bolland has been playing his best hockey of the season as of late. I couldn’t think of a better time for him to reunite with his favorite pen pals, the Sedins. There was a lot of trash talk between Bolland and the Canucks a few weeks back, don’t think for a second that has been forgotten. Cory Crawford will get the start in net for the Blackhawks tonight. I am hoping he worked on his rebound control during the break because that needs to improve.
This will be a fun game to watch regardless of the outcome. There will a playoff feel to this one. It will be nice to start this long trip out with a win in a big rival’s home building. These two team’s fan bases will be just as spirited on the internet (follow me on Twitter @SAMotherPucker) as the players will be on the ice tonight, which will only enhance the game! LET’S GO HAWKS!!!!