This is going to be epic. All the makings of just an absolute war between these two teams. So many sub plots and stories...this could be the Avs/Wings for the new generation. I can not WAIT for this series to get started. A chance for redemption, a chance for revenge. The two highest flying offensive teams in the West going head to head...Kane and Toews vs. the Twins, Byfuglien and Luongo, Kesler and Ladd...can the Canucks' patchwork defense equal the poise and skill of the Hawks' star studded blueline?
Man. This is going to kick all kinds of ass. Bring it.
This is going to be fun to watch. Hopefully Luongo and the defense don't have another meltdown and hopefully the Sedins can score some goals in the first 40 minutes of the games instead of just dominating in the 3rd and singlehandedly winning games.
If Byfulgien is still playing as a defenseman, that'll keep from the front of our net except on PPs.
Big concern for me: the depth of their 3rd and 4th lines. Our third line (plus Hansen as the sub/spare) has been great, but our 4th is non-existent. Chicago's bottom six are big, smart, and can score. We need a 4th that can play decent minutes and be a threat on occasion. So far, I've liked the Glass-Demitra-Hansen line the best, but obviously that's not going to happen again. Speed might be our ally against that bottom six (especially against Madden).
"It won't be hard at all to play Patrick," said Kesler when asked if the friendship he may have generated with Patick Kane over the Olympics would make playing in such a series more difficult -- particularly given he could end up trying to check him.
"If anything, I'm more friends with Jack Johnson and Dustin Brown and this series really wasn't a problem for me. Let's face it, I don't have any friends when I'm on the ice."
"There's a lot of hockey still to be played but if it's Chicago, I think if you ask everyone in this room who was here last year they'd tell you we'd love another shot at them," said Shane O'Brien. "That's kind of been on our mind for a year now. If it works out that way, it's OK with us. We'll be confident against any team."
what have the nucks learned from a year ago facing the hawks? IMO, last year they got their emotions take over. scrums ensuing after every whistle. Mitchell talking smack about kane, it lit a fire under his ass, scoring 3x in game 6. our d was "wayy to slow for the hawks speed. kesler getting highsticked in the face by ladd. so many storylines! THIS SERIES WILL BE THE best entertainment value the nhl could possibly have and ppl will have their eyes glued to this matchup very closely.
I don't think Botch's latest article has been posted either. It has some notable quotes:
"Our guys, I feel, are not satisfied at all with what we've accomplished, because we haven't accomplished anything," Alain Vigneault said.
"I felt last year our guys were ready to take that next step. We weren't able to get through Chicago. I feel we are even more ready now, having gone through that experience, having learned from it."
"I think we all have it in the back our minds, what happened and how it felt," Ryan Kesler said. "We let that series slip away from us and hopefully we can do it differently this time around."
"We're back to the point to where we were last year," Kyle Wellwood said. "For us, it's a starting point. We have something to prove."
Proof of Sammy's effect in the room?
"What did we learn? I think to be more composed," Alex Burrows said. "To keep the composure and to make sure we don't get too high or too low. (Samuelsson) told us to keep our emotions in check, make sure we always do the same things, and work hard. Those are really important aspects. Going into Chicago last year, maybe we got over excited some games."
"I think last year we were pretty happy. This year, maybe I'm wrong, but guys didn't seem that excited.
"We are looking more at the big picture this year."
"You let off the gas pedal a little bit," Ryan Kesler said. "It's tough practising for (nine) straight days.
"We didn't have to deal with the adversity (last year) like we did this year. It makes us a stronger group.
If it wasn't for that brutal giveaway that led to the spectacular Luongo save, I'd say Andrew Alberts was pretty good the last two games.
Of course, he was benched in the 3rd because of the gaffe (and because we needed some offense from the backend) so it's hard to say, but if anybody's going to make Byfuglien's life in front of Luongo miserable, it'll be Alberts. I hope.
I think this is the series that most of us expected all along.
It's weird. Even though the Canucks scored more goals during the season, and allowed more goals during the season, I think most of us would agree that Chicago has the better offence, while the Canucks have the better goaltending.
A lot of keys to this series. A few quick breakdowns:
1. We either need Samuelsson to prove that he can be the perfect bookend for the Twins against a better team, or we need Burrows to find his touch. Seabrook-Keith is the best defensive pairing in the game. I still think we need a gritty guy to play with the Twins. And Samuelsson could have a lot of trouble matched up against Keith and Seabrook. Burrows is a streaky player. I'm not going to say that the ENG against the Kings will get him on a run. But if he gets into a groove, he's the answer to play with the Twins against Keith and Seabrook.
2. We have to be congnisant of the Hawks explosiveness. They can trot out three lines that can score. They have great speed, and they have a couple defencemen (Keith and Campbell) who can make a difference offensively. As we saw last year, they can turn a 3-0 third period deficit into a 3-3 tie. While I think our offence is more consistent and reliable, Chicago's is more explosive. A four-goal lead or more is probably safe. Three goals or less isn't.
-Our defence will need to be at their best, both individually and as a unit. Chicago's speed could cause problems for our blue-line brigade, which isn't the most mobile in the league.
3. We need to get to Chicago's goaltending. I have no idea how Chicago finished with such a good GAA - frankly, I've viewed goaltending as a question mark all year. Nik Khabibulin was fantastic for the Hawks in Games 2-5 last year. He made a game-saving save off of Burrows in OT in Game 4. We don't have to worry about Khabibulin this time around. My attitude entering this series is similar to what it was in the last series: if Lou holds them to two goals, we'll win, because I know we can get three against Niemi or Huet. If Lou allows three, I'm fairly confident in victory. But Chicago's more likely to score four or more than LA. Niemi's a good goaltender, but he's a guy who I think the Canucks can definitely get to, especially as the adjustments are made over the course of a seven-game series.
I don't really care who we face this round. If we're Cup contenders, we'll win this series. If we're good enough to win it all, then we will beat this Chicago team. I think we'll find out in this series whether we're contenders, or if it's just another season in which we're good, maybe very good, but not good enough - a common refrain for Canuck fans most of the past two decades.