Coming off a 6-3 win in Winnipeg Thursday night, the Blackhawks will renew their rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks tonight. Gone from the Canucks is head coach Alain Vigneault, who has fired after the Canucks were swept out of the playoffs in the first round. Replacing him is former New York Rangers coach John Tortorella. Despite his notoriety as a fiery personality with his players and especially the media, Tortorella has been relatively calm this year.
The Canucks currently sit in 9th place in the Western Conference with 28 points and a 12-8-4 record. While the Blackhawks and Canucks have arguably had the best rivalry in the NHL over the past five seasons, the intensity of each matchup has waned recently. The two clubs haven’t met in the post-season since 2011 when the Blackhawks came back from a 3-0 deficit to lose to the Canucks in an epic game 7 overtime.
Since that post-season matchup, the hatred between the two teams has seemed to cool off. Another post-season showdown between the two teams would go a long way towards revamping this rivalry. As with most teams facing the Blackhawks this season, Vancouver will be using this game as a measuring stick to see how they matchup against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. This is all the more reason to tune in tonight as we could see extra fuel tossed on the flames of this great rivalry.
As mentioned earlier, the Blackhawks will be without forward Bryan Bickell for a while as he battles a lower-body injury. Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports that forward Marian Hossa will miss the game due to a family issue, while forward Michal Handzus will not be in the lineup either despite participating in morning skate.