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Stanley Cup Playoffs Day 16 Predictions: Canucks and Blackhawks Start Series

Chris BouthillierSenior Analyst IApril 30, 2009

CHICAGO - MARCH 29: Nikolai Khabibulin #39 of the Chicago Blackhawks turns back a shot by Steve Bernier #18 of the Vancouver Canucks on March 29, 2009 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Canucks defeated the Blackhawks 4-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Round Two of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs kicks off with what earlier looked to be a potential first-round matchup as the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks renew acquaintances this evening.

The Canucks have enjoyed a nine-day rest, whereas the Blackhawks will be heading back to Western Canada after eliminating the Calgary Flames earlier this week. Both teams came away with two victories in the head-to-head meetings during the regular season and will not have to look far to find bad blood.

Chris' prediction record after Day 15: 25-16

Western Conference

(4) Chicago @ (3) Vancouve

It's safe to say that both teams will be in for a surprise when this series begins.

Chicago took advantage of a depleted Flames defensive core in the first round and won the matchup 4-2.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Canucks played mediocre hockey and still managed a sweep of the youthful St. Louis Blues.

The Blackhawks will have to apply pressure to the Canucks defense in order to get to Vancouver goalie Luongo. The 'Nucks captain stole Games Two and Four to propel the Canucks to victory in Round One.

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Vancouver brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin will know full well that there's going to be added pressure on them. After enjoying a solid first round, they will have to deal with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on the Chicago blueline.

The issue with the Canucks will be the 'Rest vs. Rust' factor. There's no doubt they've had plenty of time to recharge, but they will have to return to game mode quickly if they want to beat an exuberant Blackhawks team.

Game One will come down to goaltending.

If Roberto Luongo can be Roberto Luongo, the Canucks definitely have the edge.

Nikolai Khabibulin will have to match Bobby Lou save-for-save if the 'Hawks truly want to claim home ice.

Game One Winner: Vancouver

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