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Canucks chase Northwest crown vs. Blackhawks

by David Kalan /

BLACKHAWKS (34-5-5) at CANUCKS (25-13-7)


Last 10: Chicago 8-0-2; Vancouver 6-3-1.

Season series: Few teams have played the Chicago Blackhawks as tightly this season as the Vancouver Canucks. Chicago and Vancouver have split their two meetings this season, both of which ended in shootouts, with the Blackhawks taking the most recent matchup 4-3 on Feb. 19 at United Center.

Big story: With the top seed in the West already sewn up, there isn't much left for the Blackhawks to accomplish in the regular season, but they can check the last item off the list Monday. A win in Vancouver and a regulation victory by the Ottawa Senators against the Pittsburgh Penguins would give the Blackhawks the Presidents' Trophy for the second time in franchise history. A single point for the Canucks would seal their fifth consecutive Northwest Division title. This game could be a potential Western Conference Finals preview, as a division title for Vancouver would make that the only time these two teams could meet in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Monday will be one of those rare occasions in which the Blackhawks will be coming into a game off a loss. Chicago saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Coyotes Saturday night at home. Given that the Blackhawks have already clinched the West's No. 1 seed, they're unlikely to lose sleep over it, and it wouldn't be surprising if coach Joel Quenneville opted to rest certain players to increase their freshness for the postseason during Chicago's two-game swing through Vancouver and Edmonton.

The only achievement remaining for the Blackhawks in the regular season would be the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy title in 21 years, something that could be sealed as early as Monday should the Penguins lose to Ottawa. By the time Chicago takes the ice in Vancouver they'll know whether or not a shot to clinch the League's best record is in their hands.

Canucks: The Canucks may win their sixth division title in the last seven seasons Monday night, but even if Vancouver is on the brink of hanging another banner, it hasn't particularly played like it of late. The Canucks have followed up a four-game winning streak earlier this month by winning just once in regulation in their past five games.

Vancouver managed to come away with two points in its last game, topping the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in a shootout Saturday night, but it was also the third straight game in which the Canucks scored just one goal. Vancouver still holds a comfortable edge in the standings over the Minnesota Wild, but after being one of the League's better offensive teams over the last few seasons, the Canucks will be at a significant disadvantage come playoff time if they can't return to their typical goal-scoring ways.

Who's hot: Chicago's Patrick Kane has a goal and four assists in his past three games. ... Derek Roy has two goals and two assists in his past four games for Vancouver.

Injury report: Michal Rozsival (upper-body injury), Ray Emery (back injury) and Patrick Sharp (upper-body injury) are all questionable for Chicago. Kevin Bieksa (lower-body injury) has missed three games for Vancouver and is questionable for Monday. Chris Higgins (knee injury) may return before the playoffs, but is considered out indefinitely.

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