If you see a Blackhawks fan in the coming days, at least stop to thank them for taking care of Calgary (and remind them we took care of one of their own in St. Louis). That's probably where the pleasantries can stop for the time being.
For Vancouver it'll be another test against a young team, though this time around one with some kids who are actually scoring, a formidable blueline, and a goalie who is on a roll and has his name on the Cup. Yes, these are things you should be concerned about.
And, since this is the first time I've taken the time to look up and down their roster to any level of detail, I'll say this: they have won some very minor trades that have turned huge. Not sure how the Chicago fans feel about their GM Tallon (who is a former Canucks first rounder from 1970) but he's quietly made some moves that has panned out great for their roster. Oh yeah they have Bowman too huh? Bastards.
Anyway, let's take a look at the lads we'll learn to foster a good deal of sports hate in.
#19 / Center / Chicago Blackhawks
Apr 29, 1988
|2008 - Jonathan Toews||82||34||35||69||12||51||12||0||7||1||195||17.4|
A first round pick (get used to hearing that) in 2006, Toews may get overshadowed by Kane but he is their captain (youngest in the league) and played a strong first round with 2G and 4A (and 8 PIMs). We'll be seeing plenty of him at ES and on the PP. Quite likely he'll run up against Mitchell or Ohlund. I believe I saw Toews in a game or two driving hard to the Calgary net but I could be wrong (hell that could have been Bertuzzi).
#88 / Right Wing / Chicago Blackhawks
Nov 19, 1988
|2008 - Patrick Kane||80||25||45||70||-2||42||13||0||4||1||254||9.8|
First overall pick in 2007, Kane is typically the one guy you think of when you envision the Chicago kids (perhaps the whole Calder trophy he won last year has something to do with it). He had 2G and 2A against Calgary, missing one game due to the flu. He has put up two straight 70 plus point seasons and is another great talent who will be out there for plenty of EV & PP time (he lead the team with 13 PPG in the regular season).
#24 / Right Wing / Chicago Blackhawks
Apr 19, 1981
|2008 - Martin Havlat||81||29||48||77||29||30||5||0||5||1||249||11.6|
Havlat and Sami Salo have at least one thing in common: duct-taped torsos. Havlat has had a multitude of injuries over the past few seasons but this year he rewarded Chicago's patience by leading the team in points (77) while only missing a single game, both career highs. I openly pondered trading for him back in December when he was slumping a bit (and I'd still take Prucha, there I said it). When healthy he's a solid two-way guy who racked up six points (3G, 3A) in the first round. Think Havlat misses Ottawa by now? Go ask Chara too while you're at it.
#32 / Right Wing / Chicago Blackhawks
May 13, 1986
|2008 - Kris Versteeg||78||22||31||53||15||55||6||4||3||0||139||15.8|
Originally drafted by Boston, Versteeg made his way to Chicago last year by being swapped for Brandon Bochenski. And now Versteeg is up for the Calder while Bochenski didn't play a second with Tampa Bay this year. So...yeah, me thinks Chicago won this deal. The kid currently leads the team in post season points (2G, 5A). The Flames accused him early on in their series of trash talking which is almost as adorable as Backes saying the Sedins were doing it too.
#16 / Left Wing / Chicago Blackhawks
Dec 12, 1985
|2008 - Andrew Ladd||82||15||34||49||26||28||0||0||2||0||195||7.7|
A first round pick by the Canes in 2004, Ladd was moved to Chicago in exchange for Tuomo Ruutu last year. This year Ladd absolutely crushed his career totals (over double his previous career high in points from his sophomore campaign) and also showed up in all 82 games, another career best. He reminds me a bit of Pyatt in terms of a big guy who has a history of injuries but this is definitely his break out year. He's also from B.C. so, you know, hate him in a special "aww shucks he don't mean it" way.
#36 / Center / Chicago Blackhawks
Jun 05, 1986
|2008 - Dave Bolland||81||19||28||47||19||52||2||2||4||0||111||17.1|
Mr. Bolland (sounds like an insurance salesman name) is another high pick from the 2004 draft and another guy who has crushed his career bests this year (to the tune of 30 points better). He's second on the team in penalties in the playoffs with 14 PIMs so please, my new friend, keep that going.
#10 / Right Wing / Chicago Blackhawks
Dec 27, 1981
|2008 - Patrick Sharp||61||26||18||44||6||41||9||0||4||1||184||14.1|
Sharp was drafted by Philadelphia in the third round of 2001, but was exchanged for Matt Ellison in 2005. Who's Matt Ellison you ask? He's over in Latvia now, so never you mind. Point being this is another great move by the Hawks to land a kid and give him icetime. He exits the first round with six points (3G, 3A).
#26 / Center / Chicago Blackhawks
Dec 17, 1977
|2008 - Samuel Pahlsson||65||7||11||18||-17||34||1||0||2||0||88||8.0|
Another series, another former Duck who you should have learned to hate already. When the deadline rolled around, rumors were Vancouver wanted Pahlsson for the same reason Chicago landed him: an excellent PK'er and shutting down the opposition. He missed a chunk of the season due to the pig virus (or something) and wasn't around when Vancouver slammed Chicago 4-0 in their last meeting. I suspect he'll be used liberally against the Sedins, especially in Chicago. Regardless, he may not end up on the scoresheet that much but expect him to excel at frustrating his fellow Swedes as best as he can (what's "give your balls a tug" in Swedish?).
#55 / Left Wing / Chicago Blackhawks
Jan 22, 1984
|2008 - Ben Eager||75||11||4||15||1||161||0||0||0||0||80||13.8|
I'd wager a guess that Eager wasn't hugged enough as a kid. Or maybe you can yank the guy out of Philadelphia but once a Flyer always a Flyer. Whatever the case is, Eager's piece in the line brawl last time around should have left little doubt in your mind that's he psychotic. He also has the third highest PIMs in the postseason (25). You know what you'll get with him, but I suspect in a tight match-up such as how this looks on paper, he'll be reigned in. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, he is what he is and that's why Darcy Blackout gets his icetime. And, unlike the last time these guys met, we also have a healthy Rypien (not that Rypien is in the same weight class as Eager, but god knows that hasn't stopped him before).
#33 / Right Wing / Chicago Blackhawks
Mar 27, 1985
|2008 - Dustin Byfuglien||77||15||16||31||7||81||3||0||4||0||202||7.4|
My favorite quote about this guy (who's last name I have tried twice to say out loud and know I didn't succeed pronouncing it right on either attempt...it's BUHF-lihn) is from the Province: "...everything a young Todd Bertuzzi promised to be only with a brain." Not too sure if that's a compliment given how Bert has played, but we can assume he won't be chucking errant elbows to put his team in a hole early on. A guy who can play forward or defense (though likely forward against Vancouver) and, yes, another player with a career year (31 points).
#51 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
May 23, 1979
|2008 - Brian Campbell||82||7||45||52||5||22||4||0||1||0||108||6.5|
The biggest free agent signing from last summer (not named Sundin anyway), Campbell took some heat early on for playing poor in his own end. He shaped up eventually and proceeeded to have a career year for the Hawks, finishing fifth on the team in points (52). He's exactly what the Blues didn't have: a PP quarterback with a bomb of a shot. An aside: he should make friends with Bernier seeing how they were traded for each other last year (and is it too soon to mention that both teams involved in that swap aren't in the playoffs anymore?).
#7 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
Apr 20, 1985
|2008 - Brent Seabrook||82||8||18||26||23||62||3||1||1||0||132||6.1|
First round pick in 2003 blah blah blah. OK I'll admit it: I hate this guy and it's all because of fantasy hockey. Somehow, in the past two years, he ends up on my team (one of those last round picks where you don't really care anymore) and I hang on to him for PIMs or the occasional assist. Then he does nothing and I drop him in a bout of late night drunken team fixin'. Next he'll have vomit up a five game point streak, so I yank him off the waivers and he reverts back to his one point for every seven games thing. Not cool dude. I tried to like you, I honestly did. You're even a B.C. guy. But it's over now. You're dead to me and my fantasy team (the fondly named "Welcome To My Face"...you should see the logo).
#25 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
Apr 04, 1986
|2008 - Cam Barker||68||6||34||40||-6||65||5||0||1||0||101||5.9|
Picked third behind Ovechkin and Malkin in the 2004 draft, Barker hasn't been terribly consistent over the past few years (which explains why he spent the beginning of the year in the AHL) but he matured gradually over this season. Like most kids on this team, he has a career year in points (40) and has been great in the playoffs so far, tied with Seabrook (*spits*) for the lead in points from a Chicago defensemen (3G, 3A). Another big guy who isn't afraid to chuck his size around.
#8 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
Apr 07, 1980
|2008 - Matt Walker||65||1||13||14||7||79||0||0||0||0||83||1.2|
Spent most of his hockey life with the Blues before this season, he's a bottom four blueliner who is more apt to play shutdown then providing any offense. As you can see above...um, he also has a face. Oh yeah, he's also the younger brother of former WHL player Darby Walker. That's literally all I got on the guy. Thanks Wikipedia.
#2 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
Jul 16, 1983
|2008 - Duncan Keith||77||8||36||44||33||60||2||1||1||0||173||4.6|
Here's their version of Willie Mitchell. Keith was a second round pick from 2002 and is an all around great player, but probably best known for being a shut down guy. Fun facts: he was a +30 last year when the Hawks didn't make the post season and, this year, he lead all defensemen with a +33, just edging out Lidstrom who was at +31 (g/t HungryHawk). Not sure who he'll draw from the Vancouver ranks (him and Seabrook against the Sedins perhaps) but he'll do his best to stifle them.
#5 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
Jan 07, 1977
|2008 - Brent Sopel||23||1||1||2||-4||8||0||0||1||0||15||6.7|
Just kidding. I think another Saltine took him down. Express your sorrow in hair beautification product endorsements only.
#39 / Goalie / Chicago Blackhawks
Jan 13, 1973
|2008 - Nikolai Khabibulin||42||2467||25||8||7||1||96||2.33||1192||1096||.919||3|
The guy who looks like he should be in the Russian mafia is back (though I will tip my hat that he is making it a personal career goal to trounce the Flames at every given opportunity). Vancouver lit him up in their last meeting, but I shouldn't have to tell you that doesn't count anymore. If he's in the zone and makes some saves, he'll be very tough to beat and he's got a great shutdown defense in front of him making it that much harder (hmm, doesn't that sound a bit like another team you know?)
#38 / Goalie / Chicago Blackhawks
Sep 03, 1975
|2008 - Cristobal Huet||41||2351||20||15||4||5||99||2.53||1087||988||.909||3|
Remember this past summer when we all wondered why Chicago would have picked up Huet when they had Khabby? Well, they stuck to it and they're the only team left in the playoffs that is lugging around two #1 goalies. Not too shabby for them and, while I doubt Vancouver will be chasing Khabby based on their style of play, hopefully a rusty Huet will stand in his stead if it happens.
Fun with numbers
- Goals Against Average: Chicago is 8th with 2.67 GAA, Vancouver is #1 with a 1.25 GAA.
- Penalties: Chicago is averaging 13.5 PIMs a game, third fewest in the post season. Vancouver (wait for it...) is 15th with 20.2 PIMs a game. Ugh.
- Powerplay: Chicago is second best with 29.2%, Vancouver is fifth at 22.2%.
- Penalty Kill: Chicago is fifth best with 88.9%, Vancouver is second at 95.8%.
- Goals per game: Chicago is third best at 3.50, Vancouver is 7th at 2.75.
- Production per line at even strength:
- Kane/Sharp/Toews = 8 pts
- Bolland/Havlat/Ladd = 5 pts
- Byfuglien/Pahlsson/Versteeg = 5 pts
- Production per line on the power play:
- Havlat/Sharp/Toews = 5 pts
- Bolland/Byfuglien/Kane = 3 pts
- Byfuglien/Havlat/Versteeg = 3 pts