There was a time when games against the Chicago Blackhawks were big because of a rivalry born of playoff battles that became legendary. A Canucks team that, no matter how good they looked all year long, ran into the kryptonite wall that was Dustin Byfuglien's oversized ass and the rest of the Chicago team, until a game 7 overtime goal just about changed everything. Now, the Blackhawks are like that friend you had in elementary school, but you're in high school now and they're not even going to acknowledge you in front of their new friends because like, OMG how embarrassing?!?!
Yeah, where was I going with this? Oh, right. They stumble. They bumble. They can barely score, and are riding 2 goalies, most notably the 2nd oldest in the NHL on this ridiculous run that should they pull off a win today see them leap Calgary and St Louis for the 1st Wild Card slot. Even an OT loss today will bump Calgary out of the 2nd Wild Card spot. And the neat thing about that? If the season were to end after this? The Canucks, with that one point would face... the Chicago Blackhawks.
||Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
||Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
|13.2 (29)||Power Play %||18.1 (16)|
|79.7 (23)||Penalty Kill %||75.6 (28)|
|52.2 (5)||Faceoff Win %||47.9 (24)|
||Shooting %||9.4 (11)|
||Corsi For %||50.2 (15)
Stats from NHL.com and www.hockey-reference.com
While the Blackhawks are once again one of the contenders from the West, how they've gotten there is a little different than what we expected. They were missing Jonathan Toews for a while, and Scott Darling has become a serious option for them in goal, so much so that Coach Joel Quenneville actually considered giving Darling the start over Corey Crawford. Darling is coming off a 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins.
There's a lot of unfamiliar names on that Chicago roster if you haven't been following them closely:
Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Vinnie Hinostroza-Tanner Kero-Marian Hossa
Andrew Desjardins-Dennis Rasmussen-Nick Schmaltz
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk
If there's a weakness here, it's Chicago's PK. It's 3rd worst in the NHL at just over 75% Those are the kind of odds even a team with as god awful a PP as the Canucks can make work, and we know that there will be opportunities for them today, and they will need to make the most of them.
There was a lot to like in that game Friday night. Henrik's goal was beautiful, and worthy of the plateau it helped him reach. And how about Luca Sbisa's game winner? Sbisa's still having moments, but he's not the tire fire on skates he was in seasons past. And this team getting scoring from the back end is only going to help. We cannot forget Ryan Miller once again standing on his head for the Canucks, either. We don't know what lies ahead, and if it does go south, maybe Miller gets moved at the deadline. If that happens, the return is definitely getting better as he continues his incredibly strong play.
It doesn't look like we'll see any changes in the lineup today:
Vancouver Canucks (via Canucks)
Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Loui Eriksson
Sven Baertschi-Bo Horvat-Alex Burrows
Markus Granlund-Brandon Sutter-Jayson Megna
Brendan Gaunce-Michael Chaput-Jack Skille
Alex Edler-Troy Stecher
Luca Sbisa-Chris Tanev
Alex Biega-Nikita Tryamkin
INJURIES/ILLNESS: Anton Rodin (knee), Ben Hutton (hand), Jannik Hansen (knee), Erik Gudbranson (wrist), Philip Larsen (upper body), Derek Dorsett (back).
Philip Larsen was on the ice for the practice this morning, but we don't know when he'll find his way back into the lineup. Also, looks like we won't see Jordan Subban, but maybe they will slot him in during one of the back to back games in Arizona and Colorado? I would like to see how he does with an opportunity here.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Some DISCHARGE for you, telling you something you probably already know...