-- While much of the hype for this Western Conference Semifinals series between the Blackhawks and Vancouver focuses on offense, there are some who don't think it will be as free-wheeling as suggested.
Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook
is one of them. Seabrook said he isn't looking forward to playing "wide-open hockey," and thinks the series could be more defensive than most assume.
"They're very defensive, and we are too," he said. "They can score goals and we can score goals, but I think the emphasis is going to be on trying to keep (pucks) out of the net."
Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa
agrees. He, too, hopes it doesn't become a shootout.
"I don't think we're too comfortable with that," Bieksa said. "We'd like things to be a little tighter defensively than free-wheeling. That can go both ways and can be dangerous for both teams, if they want to open it up. In the playoffs you want to be responsible."
Could be easier said than done considering the offensive talent that will be playing. Chicago has offensive stars Jonathan Toews
, Patrick Kane
, Marian Hossa
and Patrick Sharp
while Vancouver counters with its Sedin twins (Henrik and Daniel), Mikael Samuelsson
and Ryan Kesler
"Those guys are special players," said Duncan Keith
, who is Seabrook's defensive partner. "They have a lot of points for a reason. They have a lot of depth offensively. We've definitely got our work cut out for us. We're going to have to be good every shift."
Even if they are, a fair number of pucks could still slip behind Hawks goalie Antti Niemi
and Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo
"That's a fine line knowing that you're going to let 'em run and have a track meet out there," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville
said. "There's enough offense there that it's going to be happening whether you want to prevent it from happening or not."
The ultimate shot blocker
-- Brent Sopel
's face tells the story of why he's on the Chicago Blackhawks
His left eye has a yellowish bruise with a hint of purple starting to creep into it. An inch-long wound on his left cheek is held together with stitches. He walks -- and skates -- hunched over from countless pucks that have slammed off his pads and body.
Sopel is the Hawks' shot-blocker extraordinaire and he helped kill off 25 of 26 Nashville power plays in the quarterfinals with nothing more than good positioning, a little padding and guts.
"It's just trying to find a lane, trying to find where they're going to shoot the puck and knowing what's around you," Sopel said following Friday's practice at the United Center. "Also, it's the will and the want to do that, to get hurt every single night. I'm not afraid to do that."