It's not quite the rivalry it was sizing up to be a few years ago, but the Chicago Blackhawks meeting the Vancouver Canucks is always a fun one. On Sunday night, the two teams face off at Rogers Arena for the third game of Chicago's annual Circus Trip, which has gone pretty well so far.
The 'Hawks pounded the Edmonton Oilers, 7-1, on Saturday night in arguably their best performance of the season. The game was basically decided 25 minutes in when Chicago pulled out to a 6-0 lead, and six different players ultimately tallied goals in the game.
The Canucks will likely put up a better fight Sunday night considering they have more points than the Blackhawks through 20 games this season. Vancouver obviously doesn't come close in goal differential -- 'Hawks are plus-22, 'Nucks are plus-1 -- but these teams both project to make the playoffs at this point.
It's hard to feel particularly good when you're talking about the second game of a back-to-back, but considering the way Chicago has played of late, I don't think anyone expects a flat performance. Too many guys are looking too good right now, from Kane to Toews to Hossa to Richards, and this is another opponent without stellar goaltending. We still don't know who will be in goal for the 'Hawks tonight, but either way, the team has a good chance at six wins in seven games.
Opponent Breakdown: Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks are a talented but top heavy offensive team that's currently third in the Pacific Division with a 13-6-1 record. Much of the success can be attributed to one of the most productive top lines in the league, powered by resurgent performances from the Sedin brothers after some coaching adjustments before the season.
Now Vancouver is back to being a potent offensive team, currently seventh in the league in goals per game, but it's being let down by poor goaltending. The expensive addition of Ryan Miller was supposed to give the Canucks a strong No. 1, but he's been mediocre this season while backup Eddie Lack hasn't been much better.
It's an unfortunate problem for a team that had Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider not too long ago.
Still, the Canucks have been winning games despite the underwhelming Miller/Lack duo, thanks primarily to the talent up front. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin each have 20 points in 20 games, Radim Vrbata has 16 points in 18 games and Nick Bonino has 15 points in 20 games. They're not deep and they're not balanced, but at the top, Vancouver is as good as most teams in the league.
Same injuries for the 'Hawks: Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw and Trevor van Riemsdyk are all out.
The Canucks are without Dan Hamhuis and Tom Sestito, while Alex Burrows is day to day.
|Blackhawks vs. Canucks lineups
|Also see: Nucks Misconduct, SBN's Canucks blog|
When: 8:30 p.m. CT
Where: Rogers Arena