The upcoming Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks series is going to be EPIC!
This is the third time in three years the the Blackhawks will meet the Canucks in the the playoffs with the Hawks winning both previous times. This year though the Nucks are damn good, 117 points worth of being damn good. Not only that: the Hawks have struggled after wining the Stanley Cup last year with one of the greatest teams to hit the ice. They lost their entire bottom six forwards, both their assistant coaches, and their Stanley Cup winning goaltender
- Can Reboundo Luongo manage his rebounds better in the playoffs this year as opposed to last year?
For years the book on Luongo has been hit it low and screen him and he will give up second chances. He has been nothing short of stellar this season. Has he broken the habit or will the pressure get to him
- Can Corey Crawford come up with big saves when his team needs him most?
The rook has been really good this season, earning some serious Caulder (rookie of the year) consideration. If he can play as well at Anti Niemi performed last season in the playoffs the Hawks should be in good shape.
2. Sedin Twins telepathy v. Toews and Kane telepathy.
- The Sedin twins have a certain “children of the corn” air about them. They are so creative on the ice its scary. Whats more is that they do it so quickly that they MUST be telepathic.
- Sedins meet Toews and Kane. In Chicago, if you mention hockey to any person they can name 2 players. Toews and Kane. The two featured in a number of advertizements together and even room together on the road. This year the two were paired together with Patrick Sharp for long stretches and went completely bonkers. They have been split up recently but if the Hawks look stagnant out of the gate look for coach Q to set these two loose and watch the lamp light.
3. Net Presence.
- Crybaby (Luongo) had a hell of a time last year looking at Big Buff’s Big O. Without Buffs gigantic ass in Bobby Lou’s face can the hawks find a suitable net presence to disrupt him?
4. Secondary scoring.
- The Canucks are almost as top heavy in scoring as the Hawks are, which most experts note as a reason the Hawks struggled so much this season. Their plus minus was a league best +77 while the Hawks was a +33, good for 8th best in the league. If either team can find consistent scoring from unexpected places consider that team a lock for the series.
- Make no mistake about it, the Nucks and Hawks are the biggest rivals of each other right now. The last two years the Blackhawks have gotten under the skin of the Nucks, who have responded with stupid penalties at stupid parts of the game. Bieksa and Kessler in particular have led the parade to the penalty box. With the huge roster turnover, the question is: can the Hawks make the Canucks turn themselves into idiots?
- Manny Malholtra is out for the season, this is a big blow to the Canucks because he was arguably their second best center and is undeniably their shutdown center. Things have been pretty smooth other than that though. Only Dan Hamhius has missed games recently and is supposedly healthy now.
- Meanwhile injuries have been the one constant in the Blackhawks rollercoaster ride of a season. Currently, Dave Bolland and Troy Brouwer are the injured Hawks. Dave Bolland is known as the rat because he shuts down and gets under the skin of the opponents best players He held the Sedin twins to 6 goals combined in 6 games last season. If he can do that this year the Hawks have a good shot.
7. Defense Defense Defense.
- The Canucks have no legitimate number 1 defenseman. Dan Hamhius and Kevin Bieksa are both solid in their own zone and move the puck well. On the other hand, Bieksa is stupid and will take penalties and Hamhius was made to look like a fairy by Kane last postseason. Edler and Ehrhoff were bullied last season by the Hawks bulky forwards, who aren’t there anymore. They have grown up this season and set up the Children of the Corn more often then not with beautiful feeds. Look for Q to attempt to abuse Sami Salo, the Canucks version of Hjalmarsson (see below)
- No-Teeth-Keith plays more minutes than goaltender Corey Crawford. ok, not really but he plays a ton. On top of that he has noticeably taken 2 steps back from his Norris campaign last season. Niklas Hjalmarsson is allergic to the puck. Although he seems to be a magnet for opponents shots (which inevitably leads to an injury once per game) He has an inept ability to shit his pants in his own zone when confronted by anything. Brent Seabrookis positionally sound and has chipped in nicely in the offensive end. Brian Cambell is the most under-rated player making 7 million a year in the history of sports. The team looks SO much better when he is playing. The key will be Keith because no one player affects the results of Blackhawks games more than him. If Keith starts playing like a NORRIS TROPHY WINNER they can win this series, if not at least they won the cup last year.
8. Penalties and their affects.
- The Blackhawks are god awful at killing penalties. Whats worse is that they seem to end up making a dumb penalty in the last 10 minutes of every game. Delay of Games and Too Many Men on the Ice are nothing but mental mistakes that the Blackhawks cant afford to have happen. Effort is key to the pk and it seemed like the Hawks were disinterested in the pk all season. If they want to advance they had better start quick.
- The opposite is true in Nuck Land. Their special teams are a big part of the reason they ran away with the Presidents trophy. The only thing that I would add is that they played the easiest schedule in the Western Conference.