Thursday, April 30, 2009

Western Conference Semifinals Preview: Blackhawks vs. Canucks

Chicago Blackhawks:
Season record: 46-24-12, 2nd in the Central
Season series: tied 2-2
First round: Won 4-2 over the Calgary Flames
Top scorers: Martin Havlat 29-G: 48-A: 77-P, Patrick Kane 25-G: 45-A: 70-P
Goalie: Nikolai Khabibulin Record: 25-8-7, GAA: 2.33, Sav%: .919

Vancouver Canucks:
Season record: 45-27-10, 1st in the North West
Season series: tied 2-2
First round: Won 4-0 over the St. Louis Blues
Top scorers: Daniel Sedin 31-G: 51-A: 82-P, Henrik Sedin 22-G: 60-A: 82-P
Goalie: Roberto Luongo Record: 33-13-7, GAA: 2.34, Sav%: .920

Outlook: Even though the Canucks actually had a worse record than the Blackhawks they get home ice in the series since they won the North West division. Given the home ice advantage and the Canucks veteran depth they should be the favorite to win the series. The Sedin brothers lead an impressive of skaters. Luongo is among the best goalies in the game and should be a difference maker in this series. The Blackhawks aren't without hope in the series as they have one of the NHL's emerging young stars in Patrick Kane. Kane and Havlat can put the puck in the net with the best of them and will give the Canucks plenty of trouble. The Canucks are also at a disadvantage since they've been off for so long. Vancouver hasn't played a game in over a week and the long layoff could negatively affect them in the first couple of games. If the Blackhawks can steal the first two games or at least split them then they have a chance when they bring the series back to Chicago.

Prediction: Vancouver in 6

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