Monday, March 30, 2009

Canucks send message in potential playoff preview

It's been a long time since Chicago has hosted a hockey game that had created as much buzz as Sunday's match up between the Vancouver Canucks and hometown Black Hawks had created.

As far back as last week, sportswriters and broadcasters had been circling the Sunday afternoon game as a key barometer as to where the Canucks and Hawks stood heading into the 2009 playoffs.

And if the result from Sunday is any indication, Vancouver fans will be quite happy with their prospects while folks in the windy city will be getting a little nervous about their return to the competitive world of playoff hockey.
Vancouver was quick to the lead and never looked back on Sunday, with a stellar game from the first line featuring the Sedin's and Alex Burrows, a trio that accounted for nine points on the day as the Canucks continued their mastery of Nicolai Kahbibulan, who has yet to beat the Canucks since 1998.
At the other end of the rink, Roberto Luongo put the exclamation point on the night with the Hawks turning aside every one of the 26 shots he faced, securing his seventh shut out of the year and probably sent Hawk fans home hoping that the fates don't bring him back to town in two weeks for the first round of the playoff season.

And as though to show that they were playoff ready, when the third period began with more than a fair amount of rough stuff, the messages were returned by the Canucks, who made their statement that they were not going to be run out of the United Centre on this night or looking ahead on any future engagements. If there were any doubts about the concept of team toughness when it comes to Vancouver, the answering of bell in the third should put them to rest.

With the win the Canucks are one point back of the Calgary Flames again in their bid to wrestle the number one spot in the Northwest away from the slumping Flames, overall they are tied with the Hawks in the Western Conference, although Chicago has a game in hand.

If they wish to avoid the troublesome Canucks in the first round of the playoffs, Chicago had better use that game in hand well and hope that somewhere along the way Vancouver stumbles enough to set up a first round match with another Western team.

If not, the Hawks return to the playoff picture will more than likely be a short lived affair this time around.

Vancouver Province-- Canucks cut Hawks down 4-0
Chicago Sun Times-- An empty netter
Photos above from Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province websites

No comments: