The Canucks finished the season as the highest scoring team in the NHL with 258 goals but the Blackhawks weren't far behind finishing with the fourth-best offence in the league and just six goals behind Vancouver.
It's hard to argue against the fact the Canucks probably have the best line out of both teams heading into the series as their number one unit features two of the top five point scorers in the league in Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Then again, you could have made a similar point last year heading into the series between the Canucks and Hawks as well. Vancouver fans will remember the duo of Toews and Kane completely dominating the series combining for seven goals and 20 points while the Sedins, though combining for a respectable 10 points, were a clear second best.
Chicago will likely split Toews and Kane at least to start the series with their captain anchoring the first line with Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp while Kane will skate on a second unit with Michael Frolik and Ben Smith (who is currently in the lineup as an injury replacement for Troy Brouwer).
The Canucks also hope that their third line can make an impact this series as well after watching Chicago's bottom-six forwards be a difference-maker last year. Vancouver's projected third-line - Raymond, Hansen and Torres - certainly have the ability to generate offence as they had a combined 38 goals in the regular season. That trio, however, won't be together until at least Game Three when Torres returns from a suspension. In the meantime, it appears Vancouver's third line to begin the series will consist of the aforementioned Raymond and Hansen being centered by top prospect Cody Hodgson.
The Blackhawks are also missing a key third liner in Dave Bolland, who has been out since March 9 with a concussion. Bolland, who terrorized the Canucks with five points in last year's series but gained more notoriety for getting under the skin of Daniel Sedin, could return sometime this series.
One area the Canucks should have an advantage - at least as far as regular season statistics suggest - would be offence from the back end. Vancouver blue-liners have combined for 42 goals this season while Chicago defencemen have combined for just 31 tallies.
Chicago outscored Vancouver 11-9 (shootout totals excluded) in the regular season series but seven of their goals came in one outing.
The Canucks finished as the top defensive team in the NHL allowing a league-low 180 goals - 40 fewer than the Blackhawks who finished 12th in the league.
What was most impressive about Vancouver's accomplishment was that they did it despite being decimated by injuries to their blue-line during the regular season. Their projected top-six defencemen (Ehrhoff, Edler, Bieksa, Hamhuis, Salo, and Ballard) missed a combined 140 games this season due to injury and those totals don't include the games sat out by either Andrew Alberts or Aaron Rome due to injury. Chicago's blue-line has been relatively healthy all season long with only Brian Campbell and Jordan Hendry (out for season) having missed significant amounts of time.
Vancouver will likely utilize the pairing of Bieksa-Hamhuis as their top shutdown duo to go up against the Hawks' number one line of Toews, Hossa and Sharp while the Sedins and Burrows can expect a steady dose of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Vancouver's depth on defence will allow them to distribute ice-time fairly evenly, although the Salo-Ballard combination will probably see the least time among the three pairings. On the Blackhawks side, you'd be hard-pressed to find portions of the game where Keith or Seabrook aren't on the ice. Keith is averaging over 26 minutes per game this season while Seabrook is not far behind average over 24 minutes per game.
Both teams were very strong defensively to close out the regular season. The Canucks gave up three-or-fewer goals in 12 of their final 13 outings while the Hawks had a streak of 10 straight games allowing three-or-fewer goals snapped in their regular season finale loss to the Red Wings.
Both the Canucks and Blackhawks had power play units that were among the best in the league. Vancouver's power play finished as the statistical best in the league clicking at 24.3 percent (72 goals on 296 opportunities) while Chicago's finished fourth best at 23.1 percent (64 on 277 opportunities).
Vancouver's number one unit features their top three forwards in the Sedins and Ryan Kesler with Mikael Samuelsson and Christian Ehrhoff manning the points. It usually means the forward crew for the second unit is more ragtag although having both Edler and Salo as point options on that unit certainly makes it a legitimate threat.
Chicago does something similar loading their top power play unit with Toews, Hossa, and Kane up front with Seabrook and Sharp at the points. Keith and Campbell are typically fixtures on the second unit. They've also been known at times to use the likes of Brouwer or Bolland to provide a net presence.
Special teams should be clearly in Vancouver's favor, however, as they boast one of the top PK units in the league (85.6 percent kill rate) while Chicago's is among the worst (79.2 percent kill rate). The Canucks clearly dominated the special teams battle in the regular season series scoring five power play goals on 16 opportunities (31.3 percent efficiency) while only allowing just one Blackhawk power play goal on 20 shorthanded situations (95 percent kill rate).