Wednesday, October 21, 2009
GAME DAY: Canucks @ Chicago
Had this game circled on your calendar from the moment the schedule was released? You're not alone, and good on the NHL for getting this one in while the wounds are still fresh in the minds of the Canucks and their fans. Chances are though, that the 'Road Wimps' as the Province so lovingly calls the boys, are going to simply not be able to compete with the pesky Hawks. Despite the truth in that title, and some recent games where the team was simply not there, you will see a focused Vancouver Canucks squad tonight at the United Center. They know it's not just important to get their first road win, and try not to get left in the dust early on in their division, but also to show the Hawks that should their paths cross in the post season again this year, the issues that led to their downfall have been addressed. There will not be a free pass for Dustin Byfuglien to abuse Roberto Luongo. The Hawks speedsters will be kept on the perimeter and contained. And there is no Nik Khabibulin (oh, the irony...) to brick up the net on them. With a focused 60 minute effort that will include getting the PP back on track and not getting suckered into too many penalties by a team loaded with instigators, this is a totally winnable game. Roberto Luongo has rebounded from the Calgary fiasco, and played well... the key now is for the Canucks to not just get shots at the net, but quality shots, capitalize on rebounds and use their speed. The Hawks have been tough at home this year however, so an early goal or two from the Canucks against projected starter Annti Niemi will go a long way by taking the always raucous crowds at the United Center out of the mix. Ryan Kesler has been the hottest Canuck of late, with 7 points in his last 5 contests, and they will need him along with the first line of Samuelsson, Sedin and Burrows to get things rolling. Mason Raymond continues to impress, and you know it's just a matter of time until the speedy winger, along with linemates Steve Bernier and Kyle Wellwood explode with points. The Hawks so far have managed to do well despite the offseason of turmoil and personnel changes. They won't see Marion Hossa until November, but they have yet to show signs they are desperate for his return. Gametime is at 5:30 on TSN.