Hope you enjoyed that moment while it lasted, Ryan.

 

Remember these guys? You could be forgiven if they’d slipped your mind of late. Despite fighting out some of the bitterest Playoff Series of the last five years and usually managing to pack plenty of incident into their Regular Season games, the Hawks and Canucks only played three times last year. They split a pair of SO victories and a Hawks team sleepwalking to the Presidents Trophy had one of their rare off-nights, dropping a 3-1 decision in British Columbia. The Nucks were then swept out of the first round while the Hawks.. well, we know what they got up to in the Post-Season.

Incidentally, that last Hawks/Nucks game was where Vancouver wrapped up the last-ever Northwest Division title. How they must wish for those halcyon days. Realignment has cast the Nucks in with the formidable Californian trio, the dreadful brace of Albertans and the surprisingly dangerous Arizona team in the Pacific Division, which looks like being the toughest of them all this year. Thus far they have struggled somewhat: they’re currently 5th in their Division and 9th in the West, just outside the Wild Card slot.

The Sedins, recently re-signed, are showing their age a little but are still a force to be reckoned with (even if Tortorella split them up before the Beej game last night). Ryan Kesler has managed to stay healthy all season to date, so he’s due to be hurt soon. Ryan Stanton, obtained off waivers from the Hawks, has been something of a revelation, chipping in with 10 points and sparking an ill-advised “Stanton4Calder” murmur among the Nucks fanbase.

A huge issue for them has been goaltending. I think many of us expected Roberto Luongo to put the turbulence of the last few years behind him and return to the top of his game, especially with Sochi looming. Instead he’s got a SV% of 0.913 and a GAA of 2.31 and must be questionable to even make the Canadian team now, in light of how some of his rivals are performing.  Bob’s numbers aren’t terrible but the Canucks have traditionally relied on stellar performances from him and Schneider/Lack to shore up their not-very-good defense.

The once-terrifying Vancouver PP is now 29th in the League (10.7%), however, they are 1st on the Kill (88.9%) which they need to be because they are, as ever, taking a lot of Penalties. The usual ass-rashes like Burrows, Weise and Bieksa will all be present and annoying.

As for Chicago? I’ve given up trying to predict how this team is going to perform from night to night.  As of this writing it seems unlikely that Marian Hossa is going to play tonight: he was not at morning skate and the lines were re-jigged to accomodate his absence. This is not good news. (edit: Hossa has returned to Chicago due to a “Family Issue”. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.)  Michal Handzus skated this morning but is not expected to play either. Corey Crawford will be getting yet another start, heaven help him.

You know the drill: we all talk about how this rivalry is a thing of the past, then the puck drops and all the loathing comes flooding back. Put it this way: Vancouver is pretty much the only Western Time Zone Regular Season game I’ll definitely watch (8 hour time difference)

 

Finally, our friends at Nucks Misconduct are using their gameday thread to raise money for Typhoon Relief in the Phillipines. They’ll donate $0.10 for every comment and the Canadian Government will match any funds they raise. So go along, tell Kent, Sean, Dan, Missy et al how much you LOVE Alex  Burrows and find out if every Canucks practice ends with “Storytime” where Ryan Stanton sits in the middle of an enthralled circle of team-mates and describes in detail what a “Day With The Cup” is  like.

 

Let’s Go Hawks.