The Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks usually bring the best out of each other. That’s hopefully the case tonight.
The fact is, neither team is playing their best hockey right now. The Canucks’ woes are well-documented, having lost 10 of their last 14 games, including a disheartening 4-2 loss to the last place Edmonton Oilers. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks, after dropping a 5-4 decision in OT to the Calgary Flames last night, have now lost 4 games in a row. They’ve also lost 6 of their last 7 road games (1-1-5), though despite that, the Blackhawks are still a top-3 team in the league and still lead the league in scoring (3.44 goals per game).
If the Canucks want to exploit anything, it’s that the Blackhawks are playing their 3rd game in 4 nights, and their 5th game in 8 nights. I guess that’s something.
With Henrik Sedin still out, and Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler snake-bitten, the Canucks have had to rely on everyone else to provide their offence. After returning from a lengthy stay on IR, Jordan Schroeder returned on Monday against the Oilers and scored both Canucks goals that night. Kevin Bieksa has also stepped up with 3 points in his past 2 games, including 2 goals – and the game-winning OT goal – against the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday. Ditto Chris Higgins, who also had 3 points against the Coyotes.
For the Blackhawks, Marian Hossa scored twice last night against the Flames and has 4 goals in his past 5 games. Patrick Kane, who also scored last night, has 4 points in 3 games, and he currently sits 4th in the NHL in scoring (60 points).
The Blackhawks have a healthy roster except for their backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who is out with a shoulder injury that required surgery.
For the Canucks, Hank is still out as are Mike Santorelli and Andrew Alberts. Tonight will be game 5 of John Tortorella’s suspension – he’ll miss 6 games while serving his 15-game suspension – and hopefully he’s relaxing in Hawaii or something.