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04-26-2010, 04:34 PM
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Time for the battle we've all been waiting for to begin. With the Hawks dispatching the Nashville Predators today, it's set the stage for the rematch of the 2009 Western Conference semis and the stage is set for one hell of a series!

This time around the Hawks will be the ones with home-ice advantage and will start the series at the not so friendly confines of United Center. Front and center in this series will be Roberto Luongo who hasn't forgotten the last game of last season's playoffs where he let in 7 goals in his worst playoffs, and one of his worst overall, performances of his career. After that game, Luongo didn't mince words: “I think I let my teammates down tonight and it's something that's going to take a while to get over." Well Friday he starts the path to redemption.

The Canucks finished the Kings off in six, but the series might not have been so close if the Canucks figured out how to penalty kill prior to game 5. Until that point, their penalty killing was closer to where you'd want your power-play to operate and despite out-working and out-performing the Kings by a significant margin at even strength, they weren't far from giving the Kings a 3-1 series lead and taking an early summer. That was all before their top players finally stepped up, led the team, and won the series.

Luongo was one of those players, giving his team some miraculous saves in game 4, 5 and 6, while the ever-criticized Sedin twins stepped up, along with fellow countryman Mikael Samuelsson, to give the Canucks all the offense they needed. That was enough to end the Kings season, but the Canucks will need more if they hope to beat the Hawks.

Thanks to the Sedins, Samuelsson, Luongo, and their top-3 defenders - Ehrhoff, Edler and Salo, who all had an excellent series, much of the worry about their secondary scoring not showing up was easy to ignore. They need to show up however in the second round for the Canucks to have a chance against a much better Hawks team. Though their secondary scoring wasn't all doom and gloom - Kesler did put up his points (1g, 6pts), Bernier had 4 goals, and Demitra decided to finally show up after his game 2 demotion to the 4th line - a lot more is needed from this group, and especially Burrows, who finished the series with only 1 empty net goal on the stats sheet and was a big reason for the disappointment of the penalty kill early in the series.

However Chicago isn't exactly doing much better in this regard. They had a tougher series against Nashville than they could have imagined, and if not for their top guys leading the way - much like the Canucks - they could have found themselves on the outside looking in. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp have led the way and put up the offense they need to move on; however the only other top player that decided to show up seemed to be Marian Hossa, though more than 1 goal is expected from him.

There were plenty of no-shows however from a team considered one of the deepest in the league. Versteeg and Byfuglien didn't register a goal, and only 2 assists between them - though to be fair, Byfuglien has been moved back to defense. Ladd and Bolland only had a goal each and were largely invisible through the series. If the Canucks need their secondary scorers to step up the take them to the next round, so do the Hawks.

The biggest surprise in Chicago might be their goaltending. Long considered the biggest problem on the team, Antti Niemi went into game 6 against Nashville posting a .926 save% and a 1.99 GAA - both top-5 in the playoffs.

The other big surprise there, though on the negative side, has been the play of Norris front-runner Duncan Keith, who's had a tough first round, until game 6, where he posted his first points of the series - a goal and an assist. However he still sits at a team worst -4 and has been on the ice for a team worst 10 goals against in the first round. He is still likely to finish the year with a Norris, but he's hit his slump at the wrong time - at least for the Hawks.

When you add it all up, both teams have had top guys step up, and some guys struggle to contribute. That should all lead to a fairly even playoff series to follow-up a fairly even regular season series where each team finished with a 2-2 record. And after last season's intensity filled second round match-up, there should be no shortage of drama this time around either.

This is the series we've all been waiting for. It's a new rivalry that is just heating up, and with the big guns on both sides leading the way, it's not likely to disappoint!

Vancouver Lines:

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Mikael Samuelsson
Mason Raymond - Ryan Kesler - Alex Burrows
Pavol Demitra - Kyle Wellwood - Steve Bernier
Tanner Glass - Rick Rypien - Jannik Hansen
ex: Michael Grabner

Alex Edler - Sami Salo
Shane O'Brien - Christain Ehrhoff
Andrew Alberts - Kevin Bieksa
ex: Lawrence Nycholat

Roberto Luongo
Andrew Raycroft

Chicago Lines:

Bryan Bickell - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Tomas Kopecky - Patrick Sharp - Marian Hossa
Andrew Ladd - Dave Bolland - Kris Versteeg
Troy Brouwer - John Madden - Adam Burish
ex: Ben Eager, Colin Fraser

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brent Sopel
Brian Campbell - Dustin Byfuglien
ex: Alex Hendry, Nick Boynton

Antti Niemi
Christobal Huet


Vancouver Canucks
Updated Player Pos Injury Expected Return
04/26/10 Nolan Baumgartner D Leg Questionable for Game 1 of Western Conference semifinals
04/26/10 Alexandre Bolduc C Shoulder IR. Doubtful for Western Conference semifinals
04/26/10 Ryan Johnson C Foot Doubtful for Western Conference semifinals
04/26/10 Willie Mitchell D Concussion IR. Questionable for Western Conference semifinals
04/26/10 Aaron Rome D Undisclosed Questionable for Game 1 of Western Conference semifinals
Chicago Blackhawks
Updated Player Pos Injury Expected Return
04/24/10 Kim Johnsson D Concussion Questionable for Game 6 of Western Conference quarterfinals at Nashville

Regular Season Team Stats
Blackhawks Canucks
52-22-8 Record49-28-5
112 Points 103 Points
3.20 - 3rdGoals Per Game3.27 - 2nd
2.48 - 6thGoals Against Per Game2.66 - 12th
1.20 - 4th5-on-5 Goal Ratio1.24 - 2nd
17.7% - 16thPower Play20.9% - 6th
85.3% - 4thPenalty Kill81.6 % - 18th
34.1 - 1stShots Per Game30.9 - 10th
25.1 - 1stShots Against Per Game29.5 - 11th
52.4% - 3rdFaceoffs51.4% - 7th
11.3 - 5thPIM Per Game15.5 - 26th
683 - 5thTakeaways570 - 14th
550 - 7thGiveaways578 - 9th
+46 - 2ndTeam +/-+41 - 3rd

Regular Season Player Stats
Blackhawks  Canucks 
Patrick Kane30g+58a=88p Henrik Sedin29g+83a=112p
Duncan Keith14g+55a=69p Daniel Sedin29g+56a=85p
Jonathan Toews25g+43a=68p Ryan Kesler25g+50a=75p
Patrick Sharp25g+41a=66p Alex Burrows35g+32a=67p
Marian Hossa24g+27a=51p Mikael Samuelsson30g+23a=53p

1United CenterSaturday, May 1st @ 5:00 PMCBC (CA), VERSUS (US)
2United CenterMonday, May 3rd @ 6:00 PMCBC (CA), VERSUS (US)
3GM PlaceWednesday, May 5th @ 6:30 PMCBC (CA), VERSUS (US)
4GM PlaceFriday, May 7th @ 6:30 PMCBC (CA), VERSUS (US)
*5United CenterSunday, May 9th @ 5:00 PMCBC (CA), VERSUS (US)
*6GM PlaceTuesday, May 11th @ TBDCBC (CA), VERSUS (US)
*7United CenterThursday, May 13th @ TBDCBC (CA), VERSUS (US)

*if necessary




Originally Posted by Anonymouse View Post
NFiTO put up regular season stats so I'll put up the playoff stats. Both teams played 6 games so no worries about extra games. Yeah it's a small sample size and they're playing different teams but why not (I'm bored)

Playoff Team Stats
Blackhawks Canucks
2.83 - 11thGoals Per Game4.17 - 1st
2.50 - T-3rdGoals Against Per Game3.00 - T-8th
1.10 - 8th5-on-5 Goal Ratio2.43 - 1st
17.4% - 11thPower Play25.0% - T-5th
96.3% - 3rdPenalty Kill61.5% - 16th
30.0 - 9thShots Per Game31.2 - 8th
27.7 - T-4thShots Against Per Game27.7 - T-4th
52.8% - 5thFaceoffs55.0% - 3rd
10.8 - 4thPIM Per Game13.8 - 11th
-1 - 9thTeam +/-+11 - 1st

Playoff Player Stats
Blackhawks  Canucks 
Jonathon Toews2g+6a=8p Mikael Samuelsson7g+4a=11p
Patrick Kane4g+3a=7p Daniel Sedin4g+6a=10p
Patrick Sharp3g+4a=7p Henrik Sedin1g+7a=8p
Marian Hossa1g+6a=7p Ryan Kesler1g+5a=6p
Brent Seabrook0g+4a=4p Paveol Demitra2g+3a=5p Preview

After playing what could almost be deemed a gentlemanly series against Nashville, with each coach praising the other in postgame conferences and off-day media sessions, and not a single fighting major recorded, the expectation for the re-match of last year's conference semifinal meeting betweens these teams is expected to follow a grittier path, to say the least.

"I'm sure it won't take long to rekindle the animosity," Quenneville said. "The rivalries are more intense, but in the playoffs there's a lot more focus and retaliation won't work. We have to be at our best and work."

Last edited by NFITO: 04-28-2010 at 08:18 PM. Reason: updating schedule
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