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Tale of the Tape: Canucks vs. Blackhawks (2.1.13)

Friday, 01.02.2013 / 12:15 PM / Features
By Daniel Fung
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Tale of the Tape: Canucks vs. Blackhawks (2.1.13)

Tonight’s game is presented by Budweiser.

Team Record: 3-2-2
Last Game: 3-) W vs Colorado (JAN.30.13)

Season Series: 0-0-0
Last Meeting: 1-2 OT/L (MAR.21.12)
Team Record: 6-0-1
Last Game: 2-3 SO/L at Minnesota (JAN.30.13)

Season Series: 0-0-0
Last Meeting: 2-1 OT/W (MAR.21.12)

Storylines

The Set-Up

One of the NHL's most heated rivalries begins a new chapter tonight at Rogers Arena when the Canucks (3-2-2) play host to the Blackhawks (6-0-1) for the first time this season.

What You Need to Know

  • The Canucks are looking to string together consecutive wins for just the second time this season after opening their two-game home stand on Wednesday with a 3-0 win over the Avalanche.
  • Chicago is coming off their first setback of the season after dropping a 3-2 shootout decision to the Wild on Wednesday to kickoff a six-game road trip.
  • Canucks G Roberto Luongo, fresh off his 61st career shutout, will start tonight. F Andrew Ebbett may slot back into the lineup if F Dale Weise is unable to go. Weise missed practice yesterday with a sore neck.
  • Chicago G Corey Crawford seems to be the obvious choice as their starter tonight. H's off to a fantastic 5-0-1 start and has allowed two-or-less goals in all six of his starts so far. He started all four games against the Canucks last season posting a 2-1-1 record with a 2.68 GAA and .911 save percentage.
  • The Canucks and Blackhawks split their 2011.12 season series with two wins apiece. Each team won once at home and once on the road.
  • Canucks F Daniel and F Henrik Sedin certainly seemed to play inspired hockey against Chicago last season. They combined for three goals and 11 points in the season series and finished as the top-two scoring leaders in the season series overall.
  • Blackhawks F Patrick Kane (2-2-4) and F Marian Hossa (0-4-4) shared the team lead in points against the Canucks last season.
  • This is the first of three meetings between the Canucks and Blackhawks this season. They'll meet again on February 18 in Chicago before closing out the season series in Vancouver on April 22.
  • Maybe more shots are in order for Canucks F Zack Kassian given his hot hand. He's managed to net five goals despite only firing 15 shots, which puts him with the fourth-leading shooter on Vancouver behind Burrows, Edler and Daniel Sedin.
  • Blackhawks F Jonathan Toews (3-2-5) brings a five-game point streak into tonight's game while his linemate, F Marian Hossa (1-3-4), is riding a four-game point streak.

Follow the Action

Tonight's game faces off at 7 pm PT and can be seen coast-to-coast in Canada on TSN. It is also available on RDS2 for French-language viewers. Listen live on The TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.

Those away from a TV or radio can follow @CanucksGame on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.

Keys to the Game

The Canucks Win If...

  • They stay disciplined and out of the box. There will be a desire for the Canucks to assert themselves physically early against a hated rival but they can't let that translate into senseless penalties unless they want to take their chances against one of the league's most potent power plays.
  • They make use of their power plays. Chicago's PK has given up just one goal on 27 times shorthanded this season but Vancouver has a recent history of power play success against them. Last season, five of their 11 total goals in the season series came with the man-advantage. All five power play goals came from different scorers as well.
  • Luongo stays hot. The Canucks' netminder will be under a big spotlight tonight as he picks up his third consecutive start against a team he has traditionally struggled against, at least in the playoffs. In his three starts this season, he's stopped 80 of 84 shots for a save percentage of .952.

The Blackhawks Win If...

  • They weather the early storm. The Canucks haven't been known for fast starts this season but they're sure to be fired up facing the Blackhawks. Last season, Vancouver opened the scoring in all four meetings between the clubs.
  • Continue their dominance on special teams. Chicago comes into the game ranked near the top of the league in both power play conversion rate (25 percent) and penalty kill efficiency (96.3 percent). Neither their PP or their PK was particularly good for them in last year's season series against the Canucks.
  • Secondary scorers have an impact. Last season, the Blackhawks really spread around their offence as they got goals from 10 different players while 17 different players registered at least a point in the season series. A balanced attack will give Vancouver's defenders fits.

Ones to Watch

ROBERTO LUONGO

There are not many people that would have thought back in late April that Roberto Luongo would still be in Vancouver come January but not only is the 33-year-old still in Canuck colours but he's arguably been the team's best player so far this season.

He's been so good that he seems to have temporarily usurped Cory Schneider for the starter's role as evidenced by the fact that he will earn his third consecutive start tonight facing an old nemesis in the Blackhawks. Last season, the Montreal-native posted a 1-0-1 record against Chicago with a 1.96 GAA and .948 save percentage.

Tonight will be Luongo's first start against the Blackhawks at Rogers Arena since Game 7 of Vancouver's opening round playoff series against Chicago as both of his starts against them last season came at the United Center. In 27 career games versus the Blackhawks, he's compiled a 14-9-3 record with a 2.23 GAA and .929 save percentage along with four shutouts.

DUNCAN KEITH

Duncan Keith may make his off-season home in British Columbia but he's certainly not going to receive a warm hometown welcome tonight, particularly from the local fans who recall his actions the last time the Canucks faced the Blackhawks.

Keith was front and centre for all the wrong reasons back on March 21 at the United Center after he leveled Daniel Sedin with a dangerous and deliberate elbow to the face – a move that earned him a five-game suspension but was much more damaging to the Canuck star who ended up with a concussion and was forced to miss the final nine games of the regular season plus three playoff games.

If the 29-year-old blue-liner is going to do any damage to the Canucks tonight, one can only hope he keeps it within the rulebook. In 27 career games versus Vancouver, Keith has amassed eight points (2-6-8) and 47 penalty minutes.

Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at dfung_sports@hotmail.com.