As far as emotionally-charged games are concerned, it will be pretty tough for tonight's contest to top Thursday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Ducks that featured the return of hero-turned-villain Ryan Kesler. Tonight's game, however, will be special for a number of reasons not the least of which is it will be the 1,000th career game for Daniel Sedin – one of the best players to ever don a Canucks uniform. The fact his milestone game comes against the Blackhawks – a team whose players are more likely to congratulate Daniel with a headshot rather than a handshake – raises the intensity factor that much more. Vancouver will not only have to deal with an always-tough Chicago squad but their own injury concerns as well. They will be without Dan Hamhuis, who suffered a lower-body injury early in Thursday's loss and will be out for some time according to Coach Desjardins. Ryan Stanton, who was a healthy scratch against Anaheim, is expected to take Hamhuis' spot in the lineup. Frank Corrado was summoned from Utica (AHL) on Friday although he's not expected to dress tonight. Alex Burrows is also doubtful after missing Thursday's game with an upper-body injury.
The Blackhawks got off to a bit of a rough start this season by their standards going 7-6-1 in their first 14 outings but they're starting to look like the Blackhawks we've become accustomed to lately. They've won five of their last six games and bring a season-high three-game win streak into tonight's contest after whipping the Oilers 7-1 last night in Edmonton. This is the first of three meetings between Vancouver and Chicago this season but it marks the only time the Blackhawks will visit Rogers Arena. Despite starting last night in Edmonton, don't be surprised if Corey Crawford gets the call again tonight. Crawford was supposed to have yesterday off but back-up Antti Raanta came down sick. Raanta, who could potentially start tonight, has not appeared in an NHL game since October 25 and has only made three total appearances this season. Ryan Miller is expected to be between the pipes for the Canucks.
Puck drop at 6:30 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Keys to the Game
Miller gets the last laugh. Ryan Miller wasn't around back in the heyday of the Canucks-Blackhawks rivalry but he's got his grudge against the Blackhawks after Chicago ousted him and his former team, the Blues, from last spring's playoffs. After losing four straight in that series and giving up 13 goals over those final four games in the process, look for Ryan to try and make amends tonight.
Do it for Daniel. You'd be hard-pressed to find a player who has a more 'team first' attitude than Daniel Sedin. But tonight is going to be a very special night for the former second overall pick from 1999 and the team should be able to find a way to use Daniel's milestone 1,000th game as motivation to make sure he goes home a winner.
Attack the D. With the Canucks missing their top defensive defenceman in Dan Hamhuis, you'd have to figure they'll be dealing with difficulties such as unfamiliar pairings or certain guys getting more ice-time than they are used to. The Blackhawks have to use that confusion to their advantage and think offence first.
By the Numbers
Regular season win percentage for the Canucks without Dan Hamhuis in the lineup since 2010.11 (13-8-1).
Straight home losses for the Canucks against the Blackhawks (both last season).
Players who have appeared in 1,000 games with the Canucks (Linden, H. Sedin). Daniel Sedin becomes the third.
Years since Ryan Miller's last regular season win vs. CHI (3-1 win with BUF on DEC.15.07 - 3 straight losses since).
Swedish players to appear in 1,000 NHL games. Daniel Sedin becomes the 11th.
Games played and counting for Alex Burrows, the next active leader in franchise history behind Henrik and Daniel Sedin.