Tonight’s game is presented by HSBC
|Team Record: 25-13-7
Last Game: 2-1 SO/W vs Detroit (APR.20.13)
Season Series: 1-0-1
Last Meeting: 3-4 SO/L (FEB.19.13)
|Team Record: 34-5-5 |
Last Game: 2-3 SO/L vs Phoenix (APR.20.13)
Season Series: 1-0-1
Last Meeting: 4-3 SO/W (FEB.19.13)
The Vancouver Canucks (25-13-7) can clinch the Northwest Division title tonight when they play host to hated rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks (34-5-5), at Rogers Arena.What You Need to Know
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- The Canucks play the second game of their three-game home stand tonight and are looking to pick up their eighth consecutive win at Rogers Arena after earning a 2-1 shootout victory over Detroit in their last outing on Saturday night.
- Vancouver has not won eight in a row on home ice since an 11-game home win streak from February 3 to March 19, 2009.
- The Blackhawks are starting a short two-game road trip tonight that will wrap up on Wednesday in Edmonton. They're coming off a rare shootout loss on Saturday against the Coyotes – a loss that snapped their seven-game win streak. However, they still have a streak of 11 straight games with at least a point earned (9-0-2) intact coming into action tonight.
- The Canucks officially clinched a playoff berth with their win over the Red Wings on Saturday and have an opportunity to officially clinch the Northwest Division championship tonight. All they need is a single point from tonight's contest to seal the deal and win their fifth consecutive division title.
- Tonight marks the third and final regular season meeting between the Canucks and Blackhawks this year. The season series is currently tied at one win each with both teams having earned shootout victories over the other.
- Canucks D Keith Ballard left Saturday's game after tweaking his back. Although the injury is not expected to be serious, he will likely be a game-time decision. The Canucks are already missing D Chris Tanev and D Kevin Bieksa. If Ballard can't go, D Derek Joslin could make his Canuck debut. There's also a possibility that 20-year-old D Frank Corrado could summoned to Vancouver from Chicago (AHL) and make his NHL debut as well tonight.
- Canucks G Cory Schneider, fresh off a 33-save performance on Saturday against Detroit, is expected make his second appearance in the season series against Chicago tonight. He was in net the last time these teams met back on February 19. He made 40 saves on 43 shots but his team fell 4-3 in a shootout.
- Blackhawks G Corey Crawford is the likely starter tonight especially with G Ray Emery currently sidelined with a lower body injury. Crawford started the first meeting between the Canucks and Blackhawks this season on February 1 making 21 saves on 22 shots but his team fell short in a shootout dropping a 2-1 decision.
- Both the Canucks and Blackhawks would love it if tonight's game turned out to be a playoff preview. Based on where the teams are currently in the standings, the earliest they would likely meet against would be in the Western Conference Final.
- Canucks F Daniel (1-2-3) and Henrik Sedin (0-3-3) lead all players in the season series with three points each. No Blackhawks player has more than two points against the Canucks this season.
Tonight's game faces off at 7 pm PT and can be seen on Sportsnet Pacific. Listen live on The TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.
Those away from a TV or radio can follow @CanucksGame on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.
Keys to the Game
The Canucks Win If...
- They quickly rekindle the rivalry. It's been over two months since the Canucks and Blackhawks last met but it shouldn't take long before the bad blood between the teams starts flowing again. The intense hatred the Canucks have for the Blackhawks should be more than enough to motivate them to play at their best tonight.
- They set out to prove something. If ever there was a time for the Canucks to prove not only to the teams around the league but also to themselves that they are playoff-ready, tonight would be the night as they are going up against a Blackhawks team that has been by far the best in the NHL this season and is considered one of the top contenders to win the Stanley Cup.
- They don't leave it all up to Cory. Schneider has shown he is capable of turning in stellar performances and helping his team pick up victories in games that they have no business winning (Saturday against Detroit would be an example). That being said, the Canucks can't throw Cory to the wolves - or in this case the Hawks - and hope he can bail them out time and time again especially against a team that is loaded with more gunslingers than a Western and can definitely make them pay on the scoreboard.
The Blackhawks Win If...
- They bounce back like they usually do. The Blackhawks are coming off a rare loss on Saturday albeit in a shootout and that's actually not good news for the Canucks because the Blackhawks haven't made it a habit to follow up a loss with another loss. The Blackhawks have only endured three winless streaks this season and none of those streaks went past two games.
- The captain makes an impact. The Blackhawks, not surprisingly, owe much of their success this season to the strong offensive campaign they've received from team captain Jonathan Toews. Toews, however, has been uncharacteristically quiet in the season series and is still searching for his first points against the Canucks this season. If he can find his scoring touch and put up some points tonight, there's a good chance his team will walk away with a pair of points as well.
- They're focused on clinching top spot. Winning the Presidents' Trophy doesn't guarantee playoff glory – the Canucks, sadly, can tell you better than anyone – but it's still a noteworthy accomplishment and one worth celebrating. The Blackhawks are on the cusp of capturing the regular season's top prize but they need to bear down in their final four games beginning tonight and get the job done fast or else risk having it slip through their fingers and into the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ones to Watch
|ALEX BURROWS |
No one on the Canucks is more familiar with big key goals against the Blackhawks than Alex Burrows but those dragon slaying-type moments just have not been there for him so far this season.
Burrows, who is the Canucks' goal-scoring leader this season with 13, has yet to find the back of the net in two games so far in the season series against the Blackhawks. In fact, he has not found the scoresheet against Chicago at all. He'll try to rectify that in the final game of the season series as well as snap the three-game point drought he has coming into tonight's contest.
The 32-year-old, who comes into tonight's game sitting six points shy of 300 career NHL points, has registered three goals and 12 points in 26 career regular season games against the Blackhawks. However, he has not recorded a point versus Chicago since his infamous overtime game-winner in Game 7 of the 2010 Western Conference quarterfinal series.
|MARIAN HOSSA |
Finding a way to stay healthy has been a struggle for Marian Hossa not only this season but throughout his career. But when he is healthy and in the lineup, there are few players who are more dangerous at the offensive end of the ice than he is.
The Canucks know firsthand just how dominant he can be after watching him skate circles around them in the last head-to-head meeting with Chicago back on February 19. The 34-year-old Slovak had two goals in just over 13 minutes of ice-time before being forced to leave that game, perhaps not surprisingly, due to injury.
Hossa will be looking to start a new goal and point streak tonight after watching his three-game goal streak and three-game point streak (3-2-5) come to an end on Saturday against the Coyotes. Including his two goals in this year's season series, Hossa has six goals and 18 points in 27 career games versus the Canucks.
Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.