Apr 22, 2013; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler (17) reaches across Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya (27) during the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Not a divisional rivalry, but one of those special rivalries that never needed a division to become a rivalry. The Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks shared a true hatred for one another, after 3 straight years and 3 straight playoff series matchups. Tonight, the 2 teams will get reacquainted with one another.
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Statistically, this is a stellar matchup, but speaking in terms of results, this season, these teams look very different. The Blackhawks have at the top, or at least solid stats, with the exceptions of Goals Allowed, and Penalty Killing. The Canucks have very comparable stats, to the Blackhawks, in several areas, and are even much better in areas that the Blackhawks have struggled. Still however, the Blackhawks are at the top of the Central Division, while the Canucks are in in the bottom half of the Pacific Division.
The Canucks are off to a disappointing start to the John Tortorella era, but as we saw in the stats, they have not played too poorly. Failure to get desired results, however, has been the norm, and if that doesn’t stop soon, the Cancucks may have some serious problems. Continuous bad luck leads to frustration, which often times leads to sloppy, uninspired hockey. Tonight’s matchup, with the Hawks, is the perfect opportunity, for the Canucks, to get moving towards the top of the Pacific Division.
Vancouver is as always lead by the offensively dynamic twin brothers, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin. Without the production of the twins, who knows where the Canucks would be. Ryan Kessler is an all-world talent, as long as he can stay healthy, and so far, so good this season.The blueline is held down by a favorite of Hawks’ fans(wink, wink) Kevin Bieksa. Goaltending has been good, from Roberto Luongo, which is amazing, considering the awkward attempts to trade him, lat season, which lead to a falling out, between he and the Canucks’ front-office.
The Blackhawks can out score any team, in the NHL, by a large margin. It’s scary to think about how far and away elite they would be, if they could somehow solve their defensive issues, in their own zone. The Hawks can count on elite offense from Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, as well as elite all-around play from Jonathan Toews, but they will be without the elite all-round play from Marian Hossa, who will be out of tonight’s game. The next wave of elite talent is manifesting with Brandon Saad budding as the next all-around star, of the Hawks, and Brandon Pirri well on his way to being the Hawks’ next big offensive threat, on a team that’s stocked full of them. Duncan Keith is no doubt excited to continue his Norris quality season, tonight against the Canucks, a team that he has had his personal issues with, in the past.
Corey Crawford has played very well, and often spectacularly, but it is starting to look like extreme over-use, might be catching up t him, a little bit. Crawford’s success is vital to the Hawks’ success, especially when the defensive zone struggles have been wildly abundant.
Tonight’s game has been mega-hyped as does every game between the Blackhawks and Canucks, but what’s often forgotten in the rivalry, is that these are 2 high-quality hockey teams going toe-to-toe, with one another, and the hockey should be high-quality, as well. Well, as long as there’s no hair pulling, or any other unnecessary shenanigans, like that. It should be a great game!