Keep Your Heads Up! Canucks-Blackhawks Preview

Willie Mitchell doesn't like Blackhawks. Especially not baby-faced Hawk captains. (H/T to Mike for the image)

GAME TIME: 7:00 PST

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

The Mortal Enemy: Second City Hockey

UPDATE (1:28 PM): Joel Quenneville said this about any potential retribution from Chicago:

"Our priority will be to win the hockey game and nothing else," Quenneville said. "Getting even on the scoreboard is the best way to get even."

-Chicago Tribune.

***************

I'm going to focus quite a bit on Jonathan Toews to start this preview. A lot of this game and even the Hawks' recent success has revolved around him. On October 21, Toews had just played over 13:00 of hockey in a home game against the Canucks. He took a pass as he came out of his own zone and BANGO! Willie Mitchell, who had just stepped out of the penalty box, rang his damned bell, causing the Chicago's captain to miss 6 games with a concussion. Prior to that game against the Canucks, the Hawks had lost to the Stars, but had won 4 straight before that. The Canucks beat Chicago 3-2 that night and we all felt pretty good about it. In the 6 games that Toews missed at the hands of Big Willie, Chicago went 3-3. When Toews returned to the lineup on November 9th, his team went on a 6-game winning streak leading up to tonight. To say Toews is valuable to the Blackhawks team is an understatement.

He scored 2 goals and 1 assist against the Oilers Saturday night in a 5-2 victory.

Many wonder if the Hawks are going to seek some kind of retribution against Vancouver tonight for the Mitchell hit on Toews. It is quite possible. So they had better prepare themselves for a potential war tonight. There is no love between the 2 teams that's for sure. The animosity continues to grow.

 

Vancouver has the "luxury" of playing a Hawks team that is playing in a back-to-back situation. However, from what I saw in the Hawks-Oilers game Saturday night, Chicago disposed of Edmonton with relative ease. The Canucks have to come out hard and play them consistently aggressive in order to win. They have to wear them down as the game goes on without taking too many penalties in the process. Chicago is 2-0-1 in back-to-back scenarios this season.

Marian Hossa will not play against the Canucks. He's due to return sometime next week. But the return of Daniel Sedin has to boost the Canucks, especially Henrik Sedin. Now we'll finally see the cycle again! Woo! Hat tip to Hank for putting up an admirable effort in his brother's absence. He, although the points came sporadically, scored 10 goals and 8 assists in 18 games without his twin. Not bad at all, Hank.  Now we shall see how the Canucks perform with the rejuvenated Sedin-Burrows top line and the Kesler-Samuelsson-Raymond second line. The team cannot take Daniel's return for granted. They all have to work hard and contribute in order to be successful. Dank may be a little rusty after missing so much time.

Speaking of hat tips: A big cheers to Tanner Glass for stealing the 4th line spot from Darcy Hordichuk...for now. He's not going to put up a shitload of points, but he's getting the job done and it's being noticed. In 18 games played this season, he may only have 2 goals and 3 points, but he has only been a minus once. Of course, he's matched up against the other teams' 4th line, but still, he's a tough, reliable guy.

Comparative Stats:

Goals Per Game: Chicago 5th, Canucks 12th in the NHL

Goals Against Per Game: Chicago 2nd, Canucks 10th

Who's better 5 on 5? Chicago 3rd, Canucks 10th

Powerplay: Canucks 6th, Chicago 9th

Penalty Kill: Chicago 1st, Canucks 24th.

Shots Per Game: Chicago 4th, Canucks 13th

Shots Against Per Game: Chicago 1st, Canucks 9th

Faceoff Percentage: Chicago 2nd, Canucks 7th

Cristobal Huet played very well against the Oilers. If the Hawks play Antii Niemi against the Canucks...well he's not so bad either. He has started 4 games this season, holds a 3-1 record, a 2.22 GAA and a .900 save percentage.

The Canucks are monsters at GM Place this season, with an 8-2-0 record. Chicago knows damned well that they need to work on their 4-3-1 road record. Kicking the Albertan teams' asses in their last 2 games is a great start. The Canucks still sit in 1th spot in the West, with a 12-10-0 record, now 4 points behind the Flames, who have played 1 less game, and 5 points behind the Northwest Division-leading Avalanche, who have played 1 more game than us. There isn't much room for error right now.

Let's go Canucks! Bury these bastards once again!

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