Originally posted on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 1/30/12
Gut Check Time

Once the Hawks and Canucks face off Tuesday night, we can officially say that this season is over the hill.  We’ll be able to say the unofficial 2nd half has begun.

Obviously 41 is half of 82 and this is Game 50, but if we are looking at the Canucks as Stanley Cup favourites, 50 is actually less than halfway to the amount of games the Canucks played last season and could potentially play if they went all the way again.

That number was 107; not counting pre-season.

At the 50 game mark last season, Vancouver was 30-10-9; compared to 30-15-4 this season. They won game 50 2-1 over Nashville, their eventual 2nd round opponent.

Well you can bet your bottom dollar the Chicago Blackhawks have designs on making it further than Vancouver in the playoffs this year and the two could very well meet up for the fourth season in a row.

What does Game 3 Hold? Chicago won the last one 5-1.

This is meeting three of the season and the first since November 16th when Chicago was victorious 5-1.

Prior to that, Vancouver pummeled the Hawks 6-2 in Chicago.

It’s Just Another Game Right?

The Canucks and Blackhawks players may all tell you that, but we know Kaner is going to take this opportunity to hit up the Roxy.

Seriously though, you can probably find him there around 11pm Tuesday night.

Make sure to stick around until when the bars and clubs are closed. He might need a ride considering Vancouver is short on cabs apparently.

BUT seriously there are some pretty interesting story lines going into this one so how about we make like Kidz in the Hall and break it down.


Jonny Toews

If Patrick Kane really is Superman, then it’s safe to say Toews is Batman. They were best friends in the Marvel comics if you didn’t know. So we can also safely say that since Toews is set to return Tuesday from a hand injury that kept him out for one game (plus the ASG) that he was operated on and now carries a batarang around for use against the Canucks.

Besides that unfair advantage wielded by Toews, he does hold the distinction of being in the top 10 in points so far this season. Toews has 27 goals coupled by 23 assists for 50 points in 49 games.

Everyone in Vancouver knows how dangerous he is and had he or should he not be available Tuesday night, that would be very beneficial for the home side.

Don’t count on it though; the Nucks WILL have to deal with the caped crusaders.

One should also note Toews’ success in Rogers Arena/Canada Hockey Place. He had a fantastic Olympic tournament here and had 1 goal and 1 assist in the aforementioned 5-1 win earlier this season.

The West Coast 3rd Wheel

Whenever anyone would name Vancouver’s top line from the West Coast Express “Era,” it would go like this: Naslund, Bertuzzi and Morrison.

Of course I’m not saying the B-MO isn’t a talented guy, because he is, but his time in Vancouver, on the top line or not, was overshadowed by Big Bert and Nazzy.

Morrison was a key cog on that line, 3rdwheel or not and his journey since leaving has been a little more heartbreaking than Bertuzzi’s.

"In Depth" Blackhawks vs. Canucks Preview

Bertuzzi never really spent much time with a hard-core rival of Vancouver and that includes Detroit. There were 66 games with Calgary but he returned to Detroit after that and there he remains.

Brendan Morrison was traded by Calgary the other day to Chicago and while it’s not like he’s trying to get revenge on Vancouver or anything like that, it is rather unfortunate.

How so?

Well it’s unfortunate our team will have to kick the rump of one of our province’s own.

All that being said, the shunned one will give the Hawks’ extra depth at center, force the re-assignment of call-up Brandon Pirri and he may even get the chance to play with some pretty darn good players.

Jason Botchford (@botchoncanucks) tweeted this weekend that Morrison could be playing 2nd line center with Sharp and Hossa. Fine company indeed!

The [imaginary] Sedin Triplet

Gillis will not be trading for Scott Hartnell or Daniel Alfredsson to play with Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin.

This is what we have Alex Burrows for.

Get over it.

Predicting the Future: The Game

Sportsnet has featured a few games this season, namely against Washington and Boston in hour long vignettes with commentary and highlights. Frankly, Tuesday’s game could end up being another one of these.

The rough and tumble play of the Boston game may not quite be there due to Dan Carcillo being out for the season with a knee injury but guys like Dale Weise and Keith Ballard have really gone crazy the last few weeks. Weise is now up to 8 majors on the season and Ballard sits at 3 (all coming in recent weeks).

Compliment that with guys like Dave Bolland and Jamal Mayers playing for the Crap Hawks and we have a game.

On top of that, two blowouts between these teams so far this season sets the stage for either a really tight, low scoring and chippy affair or a free-wheeling shootout type game.

Either way, it could be another classic between two teams that everyone would love to be featured on HBO’s 24/7 together at some point down the road.

Ben Kuzma of the Province Newspaper quoted Coach Vee in this tweet on how ridiculously hard-core this rivalry has become:

Vigneault on Bolland's past comments on the Sedins adding fuel to the fire Tuesday: "How can it be more intense than it already is?

— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) January 31, 2012

The puck drops at 7PM Pacific on The Sports Network. That’s TSN by the way.


© Vancan19 for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: 2012, all star break, all star game, Blackhawks, Blackhawks vs. Canucks, Blackhawks vs. Canucks Gameday, Blackhawks vs. Canucks Preview, Brendan Morrison, Canucks, Canucks Blog, Canucks Matchups, Chicago, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago vs. Vancouver, Dan Cloutier, Daniel Alfredsson, Game 50, Game Notes, game preview, hockey blog, media release, Mike Gillis, Mindcheck, NHL, NHL Preview, Northwest Division, NWSB, Rick Rypien, Rogers Arena, Sedin Twins, TSN, Vancouver Canucks, west coast express

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