We tend to scoff at the Canucks in general, because we have Roberto Luongo’s number and we tend to knock them around like a piñata pretty much every time we see them, especially at the United Center. But we had better take the game more seriously this time: the Canucks come in fresh off a 7 – 2 win over Calgary. That game included a noteworthy hat-trick from Mason Raymond — one tally on the power play, one at even strength, and one shorty. Not often you see that.
So you can bet the Canucks will be feeling their oats and itching for a scrap when they hit Chicago tonight, especially after the bitch-slapping we gave them in GM Place the week before last. We showered the Vancouver net with 41 shots, chased Bobby Lu before the end of the 2nd, and walked out of there with a 7-1 victory. They will be looking for some payback. Expect Vancouver’s Tanner pain-in-the-Glass to be the latest fool to challenge — and get bludgeoned by — John Scott early on.
Last time out against the Canucks we had contributions from both the stars and the role-players, as Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Troy Brouwer, Brent Seabrook and Fernando Pisani all lit the lamp. It was 7 – 0 before Mikael Samuelsson managed to get one past Corey Crawford on the power play and spoil the shutout well into the 3rd. Not surprising it was a PPG — the Canucks are #1 in the league in conversion rate, 26.4% overall. Their penalty killing is ranked 3rd as well, so the Blackhawks’ special teams better be on the ball tonight. Or here’s a better idea: make a point of staying out of the box.
No injuries of note for the Canucks; for the Blackhawks we all know that Marian Hossa is out, and we continue to be without Fernando Pisani as well. Hossa’s “replacement” is a hustling young whipper-snapper by the name of Jeremy Morin who was called up from Rockford on Tuesday. Morin was at a full sprint and finishing checks from the opening whistle against St. Louis, tallying his first NHL point (though by complete fluke), helping out on the first two Hawks goals on top of that, and finishing his night with a fist-flailing scrap late in the third. The kid has two speeds: stopped, and hauling ass. He is out there to win every single shift, and if he keeps this up he’ll be shopping for condos in River North in just a few weeks.
Corey Crawford gets a rest after taking the last three straight starts, we will have Marty Turco between the pipes this evening. As long as Turco performs well methinks we can put any talk of a goalie controversy to rest for the season. Roberto Luongo’s record against the Blackhawks since the ’08-09 playoffs is 6-11-1. But apparently Coach Alain Vigneault seems to think he’s gotta come through some time — Bobby Lu gets the start.
Which reminds me! After our last shellacking of the Canucks, M. Vigneault put his big-girl panties on, marched indignantly into the post-game presser and started whining like a toy siren. He said that Mean Coach Qstache had been extra mean by putting meanie-mean players on the ice and being mean!
More accurately, his gripe was that Quenneville had put his #1 power play unit out on the ice when the Hawks were up by seven. In reality, Coach Q didn’t put a “power play unit” on the ice at all during that penalty: it was just those guys’ turn to take a shift. When presented with this fact in the past 48 hours, Vigneault stood by his original statement.
Just a reminder to Coach Suck-Muffin: this is professional hockey, not Saturday afternoon croquet. If you want somebody to go easy on you, hire a masseuse and ask for the happy ending. And if we get up by seven goals tonight and you take a penalty, I hope Coach Q sends out Sharp, Toews, Kane, Seabrook and Keith, and tells them to aim all of their shots straight for your vagina.
The puck drops at 7:30 as usual. TV is a mix-and-match tonight: Chicagoland viewers tune in on Comcast SportsNet; viewers in the States but outside of Chicago can catch the game on the NHL Network; Canadian fans click over to TSN or RIS. Broadcast radio is WGN AM-720 as always, XM subscribers look for channel 208.