In hockey time, waiting a week between games for players is an eternity, just guess what is has been like for the Canucks fans. A week today, which feels like last year, the Nucks eliminated the Blues in four straight. We all have been in waiting, while a group of series completed, to see who they would be playing.
In the mean time, the bumps, bruises, strains, and aches have been healing away, which should leave the Canucks in good health going into the series, with the Hawks. Chicago in turn, has been at war with the Calgary Flames and that is just fine by the Nuck Nation.
Willie Mitchell, who still seems to have that mysterious lower body injury, has taken the most time off. He should be ready to go whenever the series starts, which might be Thursday or Friday. No decision as yet. Sami Salo (missed the last game), and Mats Sundin, who missed the last two games is also chomping at the bit, as is the rest of the crew.
You can tell the team is getting antsy when they start at each other with good hits and a bit of trash talking. Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa were at each other during a workout the other day which shows you, they are sick and tired of practice, so “let’s get it on”!
This series should be a “rock’em, sock’em”, uptempo, take no prisoners style and at this time of the year, it’s what we have all been waiting for, like since Oct. 5, 2008 or there abouts.
Physical, I’ll give you physical. Just roll out the fourth line from Chicago, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser and Troy Brower and match it up against the Canucks “The Ripper” (Rick Rypien), Darcy Hordichuk and Ryan Johnson (well maybe not so much Johnson), and you have an accident ready to happen.
Each team matches up well on the “D” with good puck movement, power play shooters, mobility and physical play. Chicago has: Cam Barker, Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook . Vancouver looks like this: Willie Mitchell, Kevin Bieksa, Mattias Ohlund and Alex Edler.
Up front I think, and don’t tell the Hawks I wrote this, their young forwards are going to be a handful. Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg and Andrew Ladd can all fly, put the biscuit in the basket, but their size may end up being the key here. This is one talented bunch and I have blogged before that I really like them.
Okay, but you all know where my loyality lies. The Canucks can match this speed (except for Sundin), talent and have more size. Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows (the twin beacons), Pavol Demitra, Mason Raymond and Magic (Kyle Wellwood) will do just fine. So now you throw in some size to go with that in Steve Bernier and the expected return of Taylor Pyatt, mix in a couple of talented scoring twins (Sedins) and you have a team that looks prepared to do some damage in the playoffs.
In goal the Hawks have the “Bulin Wall” but let’s not do the tap dancing yet their Chicago. Isn’t this the same Nikolai Khabibulin that the Canucks played, that also used to play for the Winnipeg Jets? Let’s not forget that the Canucks have a guy named Roberto Luongo, who finished tenth in goals against while Khabibulin was 20th.
Now comes the most important stat, in the playoffs, Luongo is first, with a sparkling save percentage of .962 and Khabibulin .954. Those are really close, but the goals against average is no contest. Bobby Lou has a 1.15 to Nikolai’s 2.52.
The coaching experience goes to Joel Quenneville, who has been to this dance before with the Colorado Avalanche and also with the St. Louis Blues. See St. Louis, were still thinking about you.
Sorry Coach "V", it is what it is.
The seventh player, the fans, should be a saw-off. Each city has their “FanAttics”, load, proud and hockey knowledgeable. Each city is pumped, and as I said at the start, “Let’s Get it On”!
IceMan’s prediction, with the home ice advantage, Canucks in seven.