Here we go… time to renew hostilities
The Vancouver Canucks are back in action tonight. They close out this two game home stand against their bitter rivals from the Central division, the Chicago Blackhawks. Tonight has a little something else going for it than most Canucks and Blackhawks games do.
It will be the first time the two teams have played since Duncan Keith ended Daniel Sedin‘s regular season with a vicious elbow to the face that left the Canucks winger with a concussion, causing him to miss the remainder of the regular season and the first three playoff games against the Los Angeles Kings.
Revenge: A dish better served with swift, physical retribution or a win and two points in the standings?
To suggest that Duncan Keith doesn’t have some kind of target on him tonight would be ignorant. Every Canuck knows what he did last year and I don’t think they’re going to sit ideally by and let it go.
That being said, I think we’re well past the barbaric stage of revenge here where we can expect that a player is going to go out of their way to club Keith or try to take him out. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility, in fact, it’s a likely scenario that Keith is targeted for hard, clean checks throughout the course of the night.
I don’t think there will be any sucker punches from behind, no cheap shots to “even” things up. If the Canucks, any of them, have a chance at finishing a clean check on Keith, I expect them to do that.
I don’t think the dirty stuff makes it into this game unless it’s dirty from the start.
The Canucks line up will likely look the same as it did against the Avalanche on Wednesday night. Dale Weise missed practice yesterday with some soreness in his neck, but was back practicing with the team this morning and is likely ready to go.
What the Canucks need to do to win:
Goaltending and the Defense
Making his third straight start tonight, Roberto Luongo needs to continue to be sharp against a Hawks team that has only lost once in their first seven games this season. They’re tied for fourth in goals for and stand alone in seventh in the least amount of goals allowed.
In order for Vancouver to have a good chance tonight, the goaltending needs to be in top form.
The defense in front of Roberto Luongo will have to be sharp tonight as well. They can’t rely on Luongo to bail them out all night.
When I say discipline, I don’t mean the kind that is required to resist the urge to reach for a giant piece of cake and 10-12 cold beers while dieting for a vacation (unless you’re comparing driving Keith’s head through the glass to cake or beer) but the kind of discipline where that keeps the Canucks out of the box as often as possible.
Chicago has the ninth best power play in the league going into tonight’s game.
You don’t want to give them the man advantage, especially with Vancouver’s 24th ranked penalty kill. The Canucks need to play smart hockey and avoid the box against a Blackhawks team loaded with offensive threats.
The Canucks can’t afford to let things get out of hand. They need to play smart hockey and not worry about vengeance. Zack Kassian is leading the team in goals right now and shouldn’t be out to settle scores right off the hop.
I’m sure playing with the twins tonight, he’ll have a watchful eye on both, but if the team is really going to practice what they’re preaching then they’ll be set on the two points from the start, not the possibility of settling a score.
I’m not saying rough stuff won’t happen, in fact it likely will. This is one of hockey’s best rivalries right now and I expect nothing short of a hard hitting, fast and exciting game from these two teams.
In order to win, the Canucks need to remember that there’s a time and place for everything and that this may not be the time to seek so called “vigilantly” justice.
Enjoy the game tonight!
Please comment below on what you think the Nucks need to do tonight to grab a W vs. the Hawks.
— Northwest SportsBeat (@NWSportsBeat) January 30, 2013