March 05 2010 10:27AM
Teammates just five days ago, Kesler and Kane will renew a playoff rivalry tonight.
The Canucks seeingly endless roadtrip continues on today with Game 11 of 14 as they travel to the United Center to face the hated Chicago Blackhawks. A whole of Olympic medallists face off against each other tonight, as Roberto Luongo takes on Toews, Keith and Seabrook, while Ryan Kesler and Patrick Kane face one another, players who formed a close bond two weeks ago.
There are a whole host of interesting storylines tonight as the Canucks and Blackhawks square off. There is of course the Olympic storyline. There is the fact that Chicago knocked Vancouver out of the playoffs last year with a game the Luongo would like to soon forget. Then there Kesler versus Ladd. They genuinely hate each other. Kesler called Ladd a coward. Ladd smacked him around on the ice. We can no doubt expect that Ladd and Kesler will get nasty tonight.
The Blackhawks are one of the three truly elite teams in the league right now, along with San Jose and Washington. They have a dominating, high-flying offense coupled with a potent, powerful defence. Their main weakness lies between the pipes, where they have inconsistent goaltending with Niemi and Huet. The Canucks do have one of the top 3 offenses in the NHL, so they certainly have the potential to fill the net against shaky goaltending.
Tonight's meeting is the last regular season game between the Canucks and Blackhawks this year, and our boys have done well so far this year. The Canucks are 2-1 against the Blackhawks so far this year, with the last meeting being the most lop-sided as Vancouver won 5-1 at home. The Canucks have also won both of te first two games since coming back from the Olympic break, including a decisive victory on Wednesday against a surging Detroit Red Wings.
The Canucks get another boost tonight as they add deadline-day pickup Andrew Alberts to their suffering blueline. Alberts is a big, tough, solid defenseman who will help ease the pressure of an injury-riddled backend. Alberts has a presence that should certainly help stop a fast, deft Blackhawks offence.
Tonight, we'll see lots of drama, lots of offense, lots of storylines, lots of animosity. One thing is for sure - tonight's tilt should be a doozy.