Chicago Blackhawks: Renewal of Canuck Rivalry Kicks off Busy Weekend

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IFebruary 1, 2013

The Blackhawks and Canucks get down to business Friday night. From there, the road trip continues in Calgary Saturday.
The Blackhawks and Canucks get down to business Friday night. From there, the road trip continues in Calgary Saturday.Rich Lam/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks are back in action Friday night as they tackle the Canadian portion of their current road trip. First up are the dreaded Vancouver Canucks.

Cue the thunder and the sinister music.

Is the rivalry between Chicago and Vancouver as strong as it has been in previous seasons? I mean, we are coming off over three NHL-free months during which I'll admit to spending no time whatsoever worrying about the antics of Kevin Bieksa or the Sedin twins.

Will something happen tonight that sparks some anti-Canuck sentiment? Possibly. Right now, I'm just focused on the 'Hawks starting another win streak.

It's also a good idea to remember that Chicago has two games this weekend.

The Canucks are without Ryan Kessler and have a good old-fashioned goalie controversy brewing. They are a bit further down the Western Conference totem pole than we may be used to seeing. It's still early in the season, though. This is a team Chicago will have to contend with this season.

Roberto Luongo looks to be getting the start. Despite rumors of his imminent departure, he has three solid starts under his belt this season. This includes a shutout against Colorado Wednesday night.

It's been just over a year since the Canucks bested the Blackhawks 3-2 in the last meeting at Rogers Arena. Most of the usual combatants will be facing off. Jason Garrison has been added to the Canucks defense. Zack Kassian leads this squad with five goals. Some of the bigger names have gotten off to slower starts, but don't doubt the talent Vancouver can put on the ice.

Saturday night means a date with the Calgary Flames. The same team Chicago was winless against in the Scotiabank Saddledome last season.

If Ray Emery is getting a start this weekend, I would imagine it would be against the Flames. Coach Joel Quenneville could elect to go with Corey Crawford both nights. He has earned it with his play in his previous six starts. Of course, Emery had both wins over the Flames in 2011-12, while Crawford gave up five goals in his one appearance in Calgary last season.

Calgary brings up the rear in the conference standings and lost 6-3 Thursday to the Avalanche. However, the Flames will be waiting for the Blackhawks, having had the night off Friday. They have tripped up Chicago on numerous occasions in recent years.

The 'Hawks might be gearing up for what shapes up to be a tough Western Conference match-up on Friday. However, Chicago needs to be ready for two opponents this weekend.