No matter the timing of the matchup, it's always sure to be a great series to watch.
Vancouver is coming off its strongest season yet, winning the Presidents Trophy with 117 points. The Sedin twins dominated again, but will it be enough to sink the 'Hawks?
The 'Hawks are lucky just to be in the playoffs, but a strong motivation to defend the Cup is behind them. Will they get their act together and pose a credible threat to the Canucks?
It's no secret that the Sedin twins are the best duo in the NHL.
While they aren't the only offensive threats the Canucks have, they are the most dangerous. Besides scoring, they are also great passing players.
Henrik's 75 assists lead the NHL. Daniel wasn't far behind at third with 63.
These guys can play, and with Chicago's defense far weaker than last season, I predict the Sedin twins to have a great series against the 'Hawks.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp lead the Blackhawks offensively this season, and there's little doubt in my mind that is going to stop in the playoffs.
Toews and Sharp both pose serious threats to the Canucks' defense. They are tough skaters who are harder to push around than Patrick Kane, as well as very accurate sharpshooters.
Marian Hossa also poses as a threat to the Canucks. He's a big body that is very hard to get forced off the puck.
If the Canucks can stop those three offensive threats, they will have an easy series. If they don't, they may be in for a bumpy road.
There hasn't been a better story in the 'Hawks world (and maybe the NHL) than Corey Crawford this season.
The rookie goaltender has won 33 games with a .917 saving percentage and a 2.30 GAA, while leading the 'Hawks to the playoffs.
The 'Hawks owe much to their playoff berth to Crawford. He has been outstanding all season, as well as a lifesaver because of the 'Hawks' struggling defense.
I predict the success to carry on into the playoffs despite the lack of experience.
Crawford will get scored on, but I don't think he'll make Vancouver earn them and not let in any weak goals.
It's no lie to say the Canucks' defense is vastly improved from last season. To me, that's the main difference from last playoff season to this one, and one that gives the Canucks the advantage in this series.
Besides maybe having trouble stopping Toews, Sharp and Hossa, the Canucks defense will have little to no problems with the other 'Hawk players.
I expect Vancouver to allow very few goals this opening series. Besides, the team had a +77 goal differential this season, allowing only 185 goals, the lowest in the NHL.
The 'Hawks are going to have a tough time scoring, which may be their downfall.
Despite the outcomes of the last two matchups, I don't see the 'Hawks outplaying or outlasting the Canucks this time around.
Vancouver's defense is a lot better this season. That is the key for me.
The 'Hawks have the motivation to defend their title, but they lack the defense or the depth to back it up. It's sad, but it's definitely true.
Vancouver should be glad to see the 'Hawks in the first round. The Canucks have a legitimate shot at retribution.