Game 55: Canucks vs. Blackhawks (1.29.14)
You can accuse the Canucks of perhaps taking the Oilers lightly on Monday en route to their surprising 4-2 loss but that shouldn't be the case tonight when they host one of the NHL's best in the Blackhawks. With that said, even if they do come ready to compete tonight, that's far from a guarantee that they'll emerge victorious. But if the Canucks are to send their fans off on a high note when they play their final home game in four weeks tonight, they might as well do it with a momentum-boosting win against a heated rival. Vancouver has brought out their A-game when they've faced the defending Stanley Cup champions this season going 1-1-0 versus Chicago, including bouncing back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 3-2 shootout win the last time these teams met back on December 20.
Depending on your perspective, the Blackhawks are either ripe for the picking or will be an extra-motivated team heading into this contest. Chicago is mired in a four-game winless skid, their longest such streak of the season, and is coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to the Flames. Their current winless skid is their longest since a nine-game swoon from January 21 to February 14, 2012. The Canucks did not hit the ice yesterday so any hints about their line-up won't be known until their game day skate on Wednesday. It seems likely that Roberto Luongo will pick up the start again tonight although it's worth noting that the Canucks' lone win over the Blackhawks this season came with Eddie Lack in net. Corey Crawford is expected to get the start for Chicago.
Puck drop at 7:30 pm PT - Live on TSN, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Keep the stars silent. With the exception of Patrick Kane who has three points in the season series, the Canucks have done a tremendous job shutting down the Blackhawks' superstars like Toews, Hossa and Sharp. They'll want to keep that up tonight.
Treat the fans. With this being the last time in roughly a month before the Canucks have an opportunity to play in front of their fans again, there's no better time than to treat their loyal supporters. That means not only showing up and competing against one of the league's best, but offering a few rare surprises like perhaps a power play goal or goal from Alex Burrows or Daniel Sedin.
Rekindle the rivalry. It's true that the Canucks-Blackhawks rivalry has lost some steam since the teams met back in the 2011 playoffs, but Chicago needs something to fire them up if they want to get off their current slide. If they can flash back to the time when this rivalry was at its hottest, that might just be the spark they need to get back on the winning track.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Blackhawks when playing on zero days rest this season (9-1-3).
Road win for the Blackhawks in 2014 (1-1-4).
Canadian Olympians on the Blackhawks roster: Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp & Jonathan Toews.
Percent power play efficiency rate for the Canucks in their last 10 outings (2 for 36).
Blackhawks named to Olympic team rosters, tied with the Blues for most among all NHL teams.
Games without a goal for Daniel Sedin. He has yet to score in the month of January.