Chicago is our special enemy. Not the way we wish fire to rain down from the skies on Calgary or celebrate each and every one of Edmonton's high-profile miscues. Through the line brawl, the Toews hit, the playoffs (x2) and the generally high level of utter disdain between the two rosters, there's that lingering element of respect. We want what Chicago has/had: depth, skill and an execution of the game that demanded the opponent be damn near perfect to stop them.
So it's not without a bit of irony that the Canucks will be looking to push their conference lead to nine points tonight while keeping the defending Cup champions outside of the top eight.
Nothing comes easy. If you count the post season, the Blackhawks have won their last four games in Vancouver. They've outscored the Canucks 24-8 in that same stretch. They have the league's best power play and their kill - though putrid overall - hasn't surrendered a goal in seven of their last eight games. Oh, and they've made Roberto Luongo look (and sound) like Jay Cutler on more than one occasion. Head's will roll if they can't make the dance and topping the hottest team in the league is just the type of symbolic gesture they want.
If this was last year, I'd be a touch nervous who would step up if Keith and Seabrook bottled up the twins. If this was last year, I'd be concerned about pairings in case Mitchell wasn't lined up against Kane. If this was last year I'd pray our puck management doesn't mimic this again...God parts of last year sucked.
Now it's a different story and, for the good guys, it's business as usual. Dallas hung with them for a period before the floodgates opened. Phoenix tried to piss them off and Kesler alone shut them up. The antics are gone, the bravado's verboten and what's left is a team that can be down its top two defensemen (I'll be nice and chuck Salo in) and not break a sweat.
For a change, it's Chicago's turn to spin perfection in order to stay in the game.
Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.
- The Godfather
We all have our priorities.