A series that begins with this much drama and excitement has the potential to ramp up your playoff angst in a hurry. The five people (we have grown) who read this site know that I have a vested interest in this contest since I’m from the Windy City. This match promises to provide you with everything a playoff series can. These two teams don’t like each other, and they each have their own agenda. The Vancouver Canucks will be trying to show that winning the President’s Trophy wasn’t a fluke and end the two year streak of being eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks. Meanwhile the Hawks are getting a chance to defend their Stanley Cup Championship, proving that losing as many as nine players from last years team doesn’t matter. The Canucks say that this is the team that they want to play. Hmmmmm.
The Canucks also say that they are improved and more mature. Roberto Luongo had a very successful regular season, which he’s had the previous two years, yet he’s not been able to escape the demons in his head, as well as in front of the net, and has faltered at times miserably when it counted. The Canucks seemed to have spent the entire season preparing for this series. Showing the NHL that they are for real, and hoping to end the city’s 40 year championship drought. More after the jump.
The Canucks do have the Sedin sisters twins, Daniella and Henrietta Daniel and Henrik. Both are dangerous in their own ways and are two thirds of one of the top lines in the NHL. The pestilent Alex Burrows being the third member. Ryan Kesler, pesky himself, seems to have settled down this year and is concentrating more on hockey than on agitating his opponents. Defensively the Canucks have bolstered themselves and feel that their backline is improved over last season. The addition of Dan Hamhuis and ex-Panther Keith Ballard has contributed to that belief.
If Vancouver is going to win they will need for three things to happen. 1) Alain Vigneault will have to out coach Joel Quenneville. Coach Q was excellent with his line match ups last season, and once he figured out who was working best against who, the series was pretty much done. 2) The Canucks will have to keep their heads on straight and not fall into the trap of being agitated by the Hawks. Even though Adam Burish and Andrew Ladd are gone, the Patricks….Kane and Sharp along with a few others still have sharp tongues. 3) Bobby Lose. Until he has a Stanley Cup ring, he will always make people wonder “what if”. As good as a goalie that he might be in the regular season, he will have to carry this team. The Hawks shoot and they shoot often. They have skilled players, and players that will make traffic in front of Luongo to cause him to lose focus. Believe me, even without Big Buff, someone will make his life miserable.
As for Chicago, yes you can say they backed into the playoffs having to depend on the Minnesota Wild to defeat the Dallas Stars Sunday night. So be it. The Hawks as inconsistent as they have been all season, are still a very talented team with a lot of scoring, in addition to a very solid goaltender. Patrick Sharp is healthy after missing some games with a lower body injury, and he scores in bunches. Patrick Kane, as long as he avoids the night life, has moves he still hasn’t shown you and a shot that we all wish we had. Marian Hossa is healthy. No nagging injuries, and he is one of the strongest players with the puck. He can cycle, he can shoot, he can pass. Last year he wasn’t 100%. This year he is. Could be the x-factor of the series.
Corey Crawford in goal has been stellar. Taking the number one job away from Marty Turco, Crawford has played like a seasoned veteran. A performance this year for the 25 year old netminder that is Calder Trophy worthy, although it’s probably going to someone else. He’s positionally sound. He’s got a great glove hand, moves side to side very well, and most of all he doesn’t get rattled. Like Antti Niemi last year, he’s just playing and not worrying about anything else. The rest of the Hawks defence is very solid. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are a great pair, and have will settled in just fine for this match up. Brian Campbell is invaluable for this team. He chews up minutes and can man the power play. Newcomer Chris Campoli acquired from Ottawa has blended right in.
,The key for the Hawks though is Jonathan Toews. Quite possibly the best captain in the league. For a 22 year old, he’s got more savvy, more moxy, and just the right amount of swagger to put this team on his back and carry them to the championship. Careful, if you’re not looking he just might even smile. His wolverine style playoff beard last season was an emulation of the way he played. Hard working, every shift. Willing to get dirty, and crafty enough to score in the shootout, where he’s ohhhh so dangerous. He’s Captain Serious.
So, it’s the Sedin Sisters, The Twins, The Twinkies, The Canuckleheads, The Can’t Nucks, against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. Put your seat belts on kids, and get your maalox. If you’ve suffered from a bleeding ulcer this year, it’s most likely about to act up. But I’m telling you as much as this looks to be Vancouver’s year, as long as the Hawks are in this, nothing is certain. Demons, second thoughts, and nightmares for Bobby Lu. Plus Vancouver has the most Ex-Panthers on their roster of all the teams in the playoffs (6). Their fate is sealed.
You know what they say…..Re: title of this post…..
Hawks in six! Says me!
Please visit our NHL main page: Too Many Men On The Site.
Follow the Rat pack onTwitter: me @TheRatTrick David Lasseter @davidlasseter and Josh Luecht @joshluecht. Also, please join our Facebook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and make some comments.
Want The Rat Trick on your smartphone? Download the app and get the best in Florida Panthers coverage.