On the verge of pulling off a first round sweep, the Canucks get set for Game 4 against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at the United Center.
Daniel Sedin (3g,2a), Henrik Sedin (4a), and Christian Ehrhoff (1g,2a) lead the Canucks in head-to-head scoring while Ben Smith (2g), Jonathan Toews (2a), and Patrick Kane (2a) lead the Hawks. Vancouver has combined for 130 hits in the first three games. In their four regular season meetings with Chicago, they had a total of 95 hits.
No line-up changes are expected for the Canucks following their 3-2 win in Game 3 on Sunday. Alex Edler didn’t take part in the morning skate for Vancouver, but is expected to play.
Twelve different Vancouver players have collected at least a point so far in this series. Ryan Kesler enters tonight’s game without a goal, but is making an impact in other areas. He leads the NHL playoffs in shots on goal (16), he leads his team in hits (15) and is second on the club in blocked shots (5).
The Canucks have had half the power play opportunities Chicago has had in this series. With the majority of the scoring being done at even strength, there’s no question Vancouver is winning the 5-on-5 battles. The only Canucks who are minus players are Cody Hodgson (-1), Victor Oreskovich (-1), and Tanner Glass (-2). The only players on the Hawks line-up who are plus players are Chris Campoli (+3) and Troy Brouwer (+1).
The Canucks are in position for just their second sweep in a best-of-seven series in the club’s 40-year history. The last time they were in a position to eliminate a team in four straight games came in 2009 when they knocked out the St. Louis Blues in the first round. Heading into this year’s playoffs, 3-0 leads have occurred in 163 NHL post-season series. On just three occasions has the team who held a 3-0 series lead did not go on to win the series.
The Blackhawks are expected to make a number of changes tonight. Coach Joel Quenneville this morning said Dave Bolland will play while Brent Seabrook will not. Bolland, who did not take the morning skate, hasn’t played since March 9 after suffering a concussion. Seabrook didn’t skate and is believed to be suffering from concussion-like symptoms. Both Ryan Johnson and Bryan Bickell, who didn’t dress in Game 3, are expected to play tonight.
Chicago is looking to avoid being swept in the playoffs for the first time in 1993. That year, they lost in four straight in the division semi finals by the St. Louis Blues. The Hawks have been swept 18 times in franchise history.
History is not on the side of Chicago when down 3-0 in a series. 17 times they have dropped the first three games of a playoff match-up and they’ve lost every one of them.