CHICAGO -- Almost half the roster that helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the 2010 Stanley Cup is gone; but their heated rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks is still running red hot.
Despite the departure of former Hawks Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager and Adam Burish -- all of whom played a big role in fueling the rivalry originally -- the Canucks are no less motivated to face Chicago on Friday night at the United Center.
The Hawks have already taken the first two meetings of this season between the teams, after ousting Vancouver from the Stanley Cup Playoffs during each of the past two seasons.
"Their top guys are all still here," Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "Their best players are obviously the guys we see the most on the ice. Those are the guys you want to beat. The other guys (who are gone) you just want to beat up."
The rivalry doesn't just stop with the players, though.
The coaches have entered into the fray after a difference of opinion in the aftermath of a 7-1 victory by Chicago the last time the two teams met. Nov. 20 in Vancouver.
In the third period of that game, Chicago was awarded a 5-on-3 power play and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville opted to keep rolling through his regular lines, rather than sitting his stars, meaning Patrick Kane
and Jonathan Toews
were both on the ice for that 5-on-3. It was a move which rankled Canucks coach Alain Vigneault even though the Hawks did not score on the two-man advantage.
Friday morning, Quenneville once again insisted he wasn't trying run up the score in that game. But, time has not healed all wound in the case for Vigneault.
"I think it's every team's right to do what they want," Vigneault said after his team's morning skate at the United Center. "We obviously weren't very good. Five-on-three you send Kane and Toews on the ice. They've got every right to do that. They did it. And that's it."
A reporter pointed out that Chicago also had some non-stars in for that power play, but Vigneault was undeterred.
"C'mon, be serious here. Let's go," he said. "Toews and Kane. It's 6-0 (in the third). What do you think? Let's be serious."
He then pointed to Vancouver's 7-2 win against Calgary in its last game as a comparison.
"We just came from Calgary and we were up 6-2 with 3:00 left and my top players didn't see the ice," Vigneault said. "We had a power play. They didn't see the ice. Everybody's got their way of doing things. There's nothing wrong with what (Chicago) did. It's within the rules. They do things their way and we do things ours."
Asked if he'd try to use the 7-1 loss as extra motivation for tonight's game against the Hawks, Vigneault just laughed.
"We've just gotten beat twice by the Blackhawks," he said. "We don't need more motivation than we have now. We're focused on tonight now. We're turned the page on the past."
Quenneville seemed agitated that the 7-1 win is still a topic of conversation.
"It's over as far as I'm concerned," he said. "I think I was doing just the opposite, initially, of what I got accused of. So, leave it at that."
A reporter suggested to Quenneville that he could have put five defensemen on the ice for the 5-on-3 instead of two stars.
"You've also got your own players you've got to worry about," Quenneville responded.
The Vancouver players weren't quite as agiated as their coach after Friday's morning skate.
Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who gave up four of the seven goals in the last game, said he doesn't "remember much," about it. Canucks center Ryan Kesler said he doesn't think the Hawks were trying to rub it in, declaring: "We're not going to let any media rattle us today."
And then there was Bieksa, who said he'd love to have the tables flipped sometime.
"If I was in their situation I would've done the same thing," he said. "If we were up 5-1 on (the Hawks), I'd love to bury them. That's just the way it is."
Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent