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What a way to start to the playoffs for Vancouver. They finish with the Presidents’ trophy for the first time in team history; unfortunately they are rewarded with the defending champs in the first round.
The teams tied their season series 2-2. Vancouver has won the two most recent meetings but that latest was February 4th. Chicago blasted the Canucks for seven goals back in November only to be shut out two weeks later. This is the third straight year that these two teams have faced off in the playoffs, with Chicago winning both of those.
The Canucks are an impressive team. They led the league in goals scored, fewest goals allowed and power play. They would have swept the main four categories if not for the penalty kill, which tied for second. They are led by the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel. Henrik was tops in league scoring last season, Daniel matched that effort this year with 104 points.
The team suffered some injuries on defense towards the back half of the season, however, they enter the playoffs close to full health. They now have the deepest and strongest defensive unit in the playoffs.
The Blackhawks have been up and down this season. They have been just as likely to go on a three-game losing streak as a three-game winning streak. They spent much of the season hanging just outside the top eight in the west. An eight-game winning streak which led to a 13-4-1 run vaulted them up the standings. At one point many wondered if they were going the catch Detroit for the division lead. The team fell back to earth with only seven wins in their last 16 games.
This should be an entertaining series. Chicago has been too up and down this season and Vancouver is hitting on all cylinders right now. While it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this one go seven games, Chicago just hasn’t proven it can play consistently for a long enough stretch. Canucks in six.