February 19 2013 11:49AM
Fans would like to see the Canucks get their hands on Duncan Keith, but it's easier said than done.
Vancouver Canucks. Chicago Blackhawks. A puck, and a bunch of sticks.
It's one of the marquee matchups whenever it comes up on the NHL schedule, and it's one of the few games over the course of the regular season that doesn't require any sort of additional billing. We all know the story; the recent history between the two teams, and immense talent level all over the ice speak for themselves.
Read on Past the Jump for More on the Game.
Puckdrop: 5:30 PST
Radio: The Team 1040
Television: Rogers Sportsnet Pacific
After having rather casually breezed to a six-game winning streak against mostly inferior competition to start the month of February, the Vancouver Canucks have stumbled somewhat in their last two games. I say somewhat, because while they technically are winless in their most recent pair of contests, I thought they played well enough to win both. We like to preach about believing in the process, because sooner rather than later, it leads to the success you're looking for.
Starting tonight (although I guess you could say it actually started on Sunday night) things are about to ramp up in a big way in terms of the level of competition for the Canucks, as they make their way through the Central division with a 4-game road trip. And it starts with the toughest one of them all - The Madhouse on Madison. Roberto Luongo's House of Horrors. The House that Patrick Kane's Groupies and Bar Bills Built.
I'm not sure if you were aware of this, but the Blackhawks have been fairly good at hockey thus far this season. They have yet to lose in regulation, they lead the league in goal differential, and they've displayed a propensity to score quite a few goals every time they hit the ice (which I haven't minded, actually, because I'm a big fan of Chelsea Dagger. Sacrilegious, I know). They're pretty much as well-rounded a team as this league has right now, with few noticeable holes.
This is why I'm personally excited about this game. Forget your bloodlust for a second; this'll be a really good hockey game(*), which is what we're all ultimately tuning in to see. You may have noticed the asterisk I threw in there. And that's because I would have said the same thing on February 1st, before their first meeting of the year. The Canucks won that game, but we all kind of lost, because, you know, we watched it. Neither team played anywhere near their capabilities, which hasn't be all that common a sight this year. You'd have to think that we'll see a more well played, fluid game this time around.
There are two key personnel moves from a Canucks perspective to shine a light on heading into this one:
a) Cory Schneider gets the start. Makes sense, as Alain Vigneault continues to enjoy his ride on the goaltender carousel. I have no issue with this decision, by the way. Luongo got the last start (and the last one against Chicago, too) and didn't exactly do anything to force the coaches hand.
b) David Booth is back in the lineup, after having missed the first 14 games of the season. It'll be nice having one of the team's best possession players back in the fold. Watch for his minutes to be limited, at least initially, as he's set to start the night on the 4th line with Lapierre and Weise (according to Jason Botchford).
One would think that the build-up to the whole 'WHAT WILL DO THE CANUCKS DO TO DUNCAN KEITH?!?!' storyline is a thing of the past. Does anyone honestly even care anymore, 336 days later? Keith has made it clear that he doesn't feel any sort of need to "pay" for his actions, and that's his choice. In the flow of the game, he's a remarkable skater, and as we saw in their first game this season, it's darn near impossible to land anything resembling a body check on him to begin with. I wouldn't mind seeing him take a big (clean) hit, but I hope no Canuck goes out of their way to land a cheap shot of his own. It's a vicious cycle which takes us nowhere, so what's the point.
Fans of the team will surely want blood, but the players, and myself, would be adequately satisfied with a victory. Especially if it came in the form of Chicago's first regulation loss of the season.
|PP%||18.5% (T-12th)||18.5% (T-12th)|
|PK%||80.4% (20th)||89.1% (3rd)|
|FO%||49.6% (18th)||50.3% (13th)|
|Corsi Close %||54.4% (4th)||52.9 (9th)|
|Fenwick Close %||53.3% (7th)||53.1% (8th)|
|Team PDO||102.4 (6th)||103.4 (3rd)|