Blackhawks, Canucks set to renew hostilities

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Blackhawks, Canucks set to renew hostilities

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Posted: 8:22 p.m. Updated: 10:26 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Joel Quennevilles excitement was palpable even through a conference call.

His Chicago Blackhawks had squandered their chance to get into the playoffs earlier Sunday, but the Minnesota Wild got them back in with their 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars later that night.

Ive never been more excited about a hockey game that Ive never participated in, in my life. I was celebrating like a 5-year-old at a birthday party, Quenneville said a few hours after the Blackhawks claimed the No. 8 seed and a Western Conference quarterfinal matchup with the No. 1 Vancouver Canucks. Its unbelievable. Im shocked, surprised. I cant express my jubilation and excitement.

In the true spirit of this Blackhawks season, even their qualifying for the playoffs wasnt easy. But they got in and now face a Vancouver squad that was head and shoulders above the rest in the West this season.

Games 1 and 2 will be Wednesday and Friday night in Vancouver, 9 p.m. CST starts on both. Games 3 and 4 are April 17 and 19 at the United Center, with 7 p.m. starts. All first-round games will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.

Quenneville, whose Blackhawks went 2-2-0 vs. Vancouver this season and eliminated them the past two postseasons, said his team has to take advantage of this opportunity.

I know that playing against Vancouver we have to be special. The enthusiasm of making the playoffs is something we need to take going forward, Quenneville said. Anything can happen. We saw last year what happened with Philly at the end of (the regular season). All the teams are comparable, probably even. Lets go find out.

Most of the Blackhawks were probably watching this afternoon, too, when Minnesota helped them. Patrick Sharp told NHL Network on Sunday night said he, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Marty Turco talked about watching the game together but we werent in the best of moods after the Detroit loss.

Sharp was nevertheless thrilled at the outcome.

Im pretty relieved, thats the least I can say, Sharp told NHL Network. Its pretty exciting. You knew Minnesota came ready to play from the first shift and we had a chance.

Now the Blackhawks have another chance. Despite the Blackhawks recent postseason success against the Canucks, this wont be easy. Vancouver rose to the top of the West and stayed there throughout most of this season, weathering injuries and getting great performances throughout their lineup.

The Blackhawks could be getting some welcome news on the injury front, too. Dave Bolland continues to progress from his concussion, and Quenneville said we hope that hes able to be part of the first round of the playoffs and be a part of them early. Troy Brouwer (right shoulder) will travel for Games 1 and 2.

Nobody would like to play in the Vancouver series more than Brouw, Quenneville said. Were hoping he can be.

The Blackhawks got another chance. Theyre familiar with their opponent and what needs to be done at this time of year. The Wild got them in. Its up to them to move on.

The games were very competitive, very intense and the history of that playoff series against a familiar foe creates whole new level of intensity, Quenneville said. Rivalry becomes part of the culture. Lets respect that. Being smart, being intense, being competitive is what we need to be.

Chicago won the first two meetings, including a 2-1 shootout victory on Oct. 20. But Vancouver got on the board thanks to Roberto Luongo's shutout in a 3-0 win on Dec. 3.

The Blackhawks fired 45 shots at Luongo on Feb. 4, but some questionable calls hurt in a 4-3 loss north of the border.

In the season series, Jonathan Toews continued to bring his best against the Canucks with two goals and an assist. Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists, while Marian Hossa had three assists. Most of the scoring damage was done in one game, however, the Blackhawks' 7-1 massacre in Vancouver on Nov. 20.

Daniel Sedin scored two goals and assisted on three others against the Blackhawks.

Series schedule

DateTimeLocationTVGame 1: Wed., April 13
8:30 Pregame Live
9:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
at Vancouver
CSN-HDGame 2: Fri., April 15
8:30 Pregame Live
9:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
at Vancouver
CSN-HDGame 3: Sun., April 17
6:30 Pregame Live
7:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
CHICAGOCSN-HDGame 4: Tue., April 19
6:30 Pregame Live
7:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
CHICAGOCSN-HDGame 5: Thu., April 21
8:30 Pregame Live
9:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
at Vancouver
CSN-HDGame 6: Sun., April 24
6:00 Pregame Live
6:30 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
CHICAGOCSN-HDGame 7: Tue., April 26
TBDat Vancouver
CSN-HD
if necessary

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

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Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

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USA TODAY

Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

PITTSBURGH – Well, that looked more familiar, didn’t it?

The Blackhawks put talk into action on Wednesday night, storming out to an early lead and never letting up in a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re sitting in a good spot right now, sporting a nine-point lead over the Minnesota Wild – yes the Wild still has that game in hand – and, with five games remaining, they once again played the complete game they’d been missing.

The schedule doesn’t let up, so let’s get to the notables.

What Worked: The Blackhawks’ first period. If there’s such thing as a statement 20 minutes, the Blackhawks made it in Pittsburgh. If the Penguins made a bad pass, the Blackhawks turned it into an opportunity and, a few times, a goal. The Blackhawks had a similarly sharp first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. On Wednesday, however, they didn’t lose any steam later.

What Didn’t Work: The power play. Yeah, you really have to reach to find something that didn’t work for the Blackhawks in this one. Their power play, however, didn’t do much. Their best chance on it was a Jonathan Toews shot on their second power play; that shot was blocked before it got to Marc-Andre Fleury. Their third power play, which came on a phantom tripping call on Conor Sheary, was their quietest of the night.

Star of the game: Tanner Kero. The kid’s been alright at second-line center, and he did a little bit of everything on Wednesday night. Kero had five shots on goal, the secondary assist on Artemi Panarin’s early goal and added a breakaway goal of his own early in the third period. He also won five of 11 faceoffs. Centering Patrick Kane and Panarin could be daunting but in his short time there, Kero’s handling it very well.

He Said It: “It’s a nice opportunity that he’s taken advantage of in a short amount of time. You get a little more defensive responsibility. The upside with him is we wanted him to get better offensively as well, so it’s been a good couple of games.” Coach Joel Quenneville on Kero.

By the Numbers: 

850 – Career coaching victories for Quenneville.

524 – Career goals for Marian Hossa, who scored his 25th of the season late in the first period.

39 – Time, in seconds, in which the Blackhawks scored two goals late in the first period (Marcus Kruger at 19:05 and Marian Hossa at 19:44).

6 – Consecutive victories for the Blackhawks over the Penguins. They’ve outscored the Penguins 20-8 over that span.