2011 NHL Playoffs: Canucks vs. Blackhawks Could Be Tougher Than You Think

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2011 NHL Playoffs: Canucks vs. Blackhawks Could Be Tougher Than You Think
Rich Lam/Getty Images

The hockey gods certainly have a twisted sense of humor. There was only one scenario that would result in the Chicago Blackhawks playing the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the playoffs.

And it was the most unlikely scenario because both Chicago and Dallas had to lose.

It seemed unlikely that a desperate Blackhawks team would fail to get a single point against their rival, the Detroit Red Wings, especially after beating them in Detroit 4-2 two nights prior. But they didn't get it.

And it seemed even more unlikely, almost unthinkable, that a determined Dallas Stars team, with their playoff fate in their hands, would lose to an inferior Minnesota Wild team. But they lost.

Now here we go again, the Blackhawks and Canucks will battle each other in the playoffs for the third straight season, this time in the first round. Some kind of destiny has to be at work here.

However, unlike the previous two years, now Vancouver is the undisputed favorite to win. They are the better team. Even the most die-hard Blackhawks fan can't argue this point.

They've scored more goals and allowed fewer, have a better power play and penalty kill, win more faceoffs, have better goaltending, have the Art Ross trophy winner (and the one from last year), two 40-plus goal scorers, a Selke trophy candidate, a deeper defense and the William Jennings and Presidents' trophies.

Statistically, the Canucks are better, so I'm not going to compare them based on stats, nor am I going to do a head-to-head matchup. The Canucks are the better team. End of story. Moving on.

Instead, I would like discuss why a series between the Blackhawks and Canucks will be tougher than most hockey fans might think.

There are some areas where the Blackhawks can more than compete with the Canucks and a few areas where they even have an advantage.

Now I'm not saying the Blackhawks will defeat the Canucks. I just think this will be a hard fought, exciting series that might go a longer than most fans might expect.

Here's why the Canucks might have some trouble with the Blackhawks this year.

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