The upcoming Chicago, Vancouver match-up will feature the play-off return of Sedin nemisis Samuel Pahlsson. While with the Ducks Pahlsson became the twin's shadow, benefitting from time spent training together in Sweden.
He was able to disrupt thier cycle and render them ineffective. New linemate Burrows brings speed and grit along with decent hands to the equation. The Canucks need production from this line to be successful.
Another great aspect of the matching will be goaltending. Two unfatigued, elite goalies on hot streaks battling two high scoring offences, does it get better than that? Luongo has been a tightly focused man on a mission and will confound the young forwards of the Blackhawks until Byfuglien runs him.
In the event of injury the Canucks have hometown boy Jason LaBarbera who came to the Canucks after losing his job with Los Angeles. The Chicago back-up is another former King Cristobal Huet, who won the Roger Crozier award last year for best save percentage. The Hawks might have an edge here.
As long as I am addressing this, might I mention how utterly all or nothing this is for the Canucks? They will never be able to duplicate this type of year with this sort of roster again. The salary cap guarantees that.
Asking the Sedins to sign at anything less than full market value will be tough with Burke driving up the price. Signing the Sedins means there won't be a lot of money left over for a Sundin replacement.
As well, in the event of the Canucks actually winning the cup it would make a lot of sense to cash in Luongo now, rather than fail to resign him later. Why? Well, he lives in Florida. Tampa has the second overall pick in this year of Tavares and Hedman and Duchene. The Canucks could get Hedman and resign Ohlund to tutor him. Whatever. Vancouver has Luongo now and he is motivated.
I think the slightest edge in offence might go to Chicago, but only because the Canucks latest iteration has only been on display for two games. I like the new, post-Sundin look. I wonder if this faster (yes, Hansen is faster than Sundin), look doesn't favour the Canucks?
Checking line centers Pahlsson and Wellwood promise good entertainment as one bedevils the Sedins and the other emerges as one of the great puck thieves in the game today. Wellwood's line has some considerable offensive ability making them a threat on turnovers.
Wellwood's work short-handed has also been good, aiding what should be the better penalty killing unit. It's also nice to see the occasional Sedin penalty-kill shift. It's the powerplay that the Sedins really excel at, though. They can be dominant and thier cycling really runs the legs off penalty-killers.
I think the edge in special teams has to go to Vancouver which will lead to a win in the series if the young Hawks get officiated on.
Each aspect I mentioned has to be considered only as something the team in question has to overcome. This is why I really think the Canucks have an edge, the psychologicals. These are the things that affect teams in thier heads. This reflects thier identity as a group.
The Blackhawks are a fine young team, but this is not thier year. The Canucks have had to overcome too much to become who they are. All that remains is to finish the job, to keep overcoming any obstacle. That is what champions do. The Canucks are demonstrating this and have all year.