GAME DAY IN CHICAGO
By Elizabeth Moffat, Canucks.com
The Canucks lineup is expected to stay the same tonight at the United Center.
Despite speculation that Roberto Luongo might sit out tonight against Chicago, he will start in net.
“I don’t have a problem playing here,” he said this morning. “I enjoy playing here, I’m not intimidated, I look forward to playing here.”
Chicago is expected to change up their goaltender with Marty Turco likely to have his first start in over a week. The 35 year-old has only one win in his last five starts. Corey Crawford, who faced the Canucks in their last meeting has won his last four game.
The Blackhawks will also be without Marian Hossa, who will be out two to three weeks due to an upper body injury. Hossa recorded three points and finished +2 the last time he was in Vancouver. He is fourth in team scoring with 18 points in 21 games.
One player the Canucks have tonight that they didn’t have last time they saw Chicago is Jeff Tambellini. The team in 8-0-1 with the 26 year-old in the lineup and has recorded at least one point a game since being called up from the Manitoba Moose on November 24th.
Both teams come into tonight’s game on three game win streaks. During this time, the Canucks outscored their opponents 17-5 and Chicago 13-7.
So far this season, Vancouver is 13-7-3 and Chicago is 14-11-2.
“Tonight we’re going to be put to the test,” said coach V. “Chicago is one of the best teams in the league, they’re the Stanley Cup Champs, so to beat them tonight we’re going to have to be at our best.”
The meeting of the Canucks and the Blackhawks has become a rivalry of epic proportions that has only become increasingly heated.
His first triple scoring night came against the same team, December 27, 2009 at the Saddledome.
Chicago has gotten the best of Vancouver for two consecutive seasons in the playoffs, and in their first two meetings this season the Blackhawks bested them once again. First they won 2-1 in a shootout October 20th, then one month later they cruised to a convincing 7-2 victory at Rogers Arena.
“It's just two teams that hate each other and want to beat each other more than anything,” said Kevin Bieksa, who had 23:25 minutes of ice time in the teams last meeting. “We don't like them. We'd like to go in there and spoil their fun."
It’s not just the losses that send Vancouver and it’s fans into a tailspin, it’s how they happen. Whether it’s ex-Hawk Dustin Byfuglien roughing up Roberto Luongo in the playoffs or head coach Joel Quenneville sending out his star studded power play line consisting of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith late in a 7-1 beating.
Despite Quenneville denying that he was trying to stick it to the team at a time when it was 6-0 late in the third, Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault was visibly upset over the move on November 20th,
“They rubbed our nose in it and it was their right,” Vigneault said Thursday. “Last night, when the score was 6-2 and we had a power play I choose to send our fourth line on the ice. We all have our way of doing things. I don't need Quenneville or Chicago to do what they did in our building to dislike them more. We got embarrassed. It's their right to do whatever they want.”