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Facing Canucks still gets Blackhawks' juices flowing

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Each side has undergone changes but enough familiarity remains between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks for their Stanley Cup Playoffs-fueled rivalry to continue.

The Canucks (20-11-6) make their first visit to United Center on Friday (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN) to face the Blackhawks (25-7-5), who won the first game between the teams this season 2-1 on Nov. 23 at Rogers Arena.

"I don't think it's changed, especially when we went in there [in November] and it was a heck of a game there," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said following Chicago's morning skate. "Last time we were in there and last year's games were very competitive. I still think that every game it brings back memories quickly."

The Canucks are in the midst of a stretch playing three games in four days, so they didn't hold a morning skate. They lost 4-1 at the Dallas Stars on Thursday and come into this game 0-1-1 on a three-game road trip.

Vancouver could be dragging a bit physically and mentally, but the weariness likely will wear off quickly once the game starts and those memories Quenneville alluded to crop up. It'll be the same for the Blackhawks, who've had two days off between games.

"I think every time you play them you still get pumped up for the games and the history that's obviously behind the two teams, especially the past few years," Chicago forward Patrick Kane said. "It's been a fun rivalry to be part of and you kind of expect something to happen every game that you play against them. It's always a fun matchup."

The Blackhawks have won two games in a row and five of their past six to remain atop the NHL standings with 55 points. Vancouver is fourth in the Pacific Division and solidly in contention for the playoffs.

Antti Raanta will start in net for Chicago, and Eddie Lack could start for Vancouver after Roberto Luongo played Thursday in Dallas.

Here is how the Blackhawks and Canucks might line up:


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen

Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Mike Santorelli

David Booth - Brad Richardson - Zack Kassian

Tom Sestito - Zac Dalpe - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Christopher Tanev

Kevin Bieksa - Jason Garrison

Andrew Alberts - Yannick Weber

Eddie Lack

Roberto Luongo

Scratched: Jeremy Welsh

Injured: Alexandre Burrows (broken jaw), Ryan Stanton (high ankle sprain), Alexander Edler (knee sprain), Jordan Schroeder (upper body)


Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Kris Versteeg - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Brandon Saad

Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival

Antti Raanta

Jason LaBarbera

Scratched: Sheldon Brookbank, Michael Kostka

Injured: Nikolai Khabibulin (lower body), Corey Crawford (lower body)

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