Vancouver Canucks gameday: Rivalry renewed with Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 21: John Hayden
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 21: John Hayden /

In their first game since the Christmas holiday, the Vancouver Canucks will try to earn a big home win against their old foes, the Chicago Blackhawks. Here’s everything you need to know for the game.

The Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks used to be involved in one of hockey’s greatest rivalries. Nobody will forget Alexandre Burrows pulling Duncan Keith‘s hair, Dustin Byfuglien getting in Roberto Luongo‘s crease, nor the three epic playoff series these teams put up in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

But things have changed quite a bit since their last playoff meeting seven seasons ago. The Blackhawks have won two Stanley Cup championships, but are seeing their window rapidly close. For once, Jonathan Toews and co. are no sure bet to qualify for the playoffs.

Of course, the Canucks have refused to engage in a tear-it-all-down rebuild, trying to get younger whilst competing for a playoff spot. Given the lack of competitiveness between the two — along with the departures of big character guys like Byfuglien and Burrows — and you can see why the rivalry has lost its team.

But it gets renewed at Rogers Arena tonight. Here’s everything you need to know for tonight’s game.

104. Final. 0. 94. 0

Vancouver Canucks


2017-18 record: 15-17-5

Goals for: 98

Goals against: 121

2016-17 record vs. Blackhawks: 1-1-1

Via RotoWorld:  Brandon Sutter (upper body, day-to day), Bo Horvat (ankle, out six-to-eight weeks), Chris Tanev (groin, out two-three weeks), Sven Baertschi (broken jaw, out four-to-six weeks).

Who’s on offence

With Horvat and Baertschi out, rookie Brock Boeser has been a one-man wrecking machine. He’s the only one putting up consistent offence, and is challenging for both the Calder and ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy.

More from The Canuck Way

The Blackhawks defence has struggled more than we’re used to seeing, so we’ll see how they try and contain ‘The Flow’.

Thomas Vanek has provided key secondary scoring, despite being shuffled from linemate to linemate. He’s red hot with five points in his last three games.

Who’s on defence

There’s optimism that Chris Tanev could return. Boy, the Canucks could use that — considering how terrible the rest of the blue line has performed without him. Derrick Pouliot, a career bottom-two defenceman, has been by far this team’s best defenceman without Tanev. Good for Pouliot, bad for the rest of the team.

Who’s in net

Both Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson have struggled mightily this month. It’s anybody’s guess who head coach Travis Green rolls with, but he’ll likely give this one to Markstrom, who deserves a chance against a juggernaut Chicago team.

Projected lineup

Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Loui Eriksson

Thomas Vanek – Sam Gagner – Brock Boeser

Nikolay Goldobin – Markus Granlund – Jake Virtanen

Reid Boucher – Nic Dowd – Brendan Gaunce

Alexander Edler – Chris Tanev

Michael Del Zotto – Derrick Pouliot

Erik Gudbranson – Ben Hutton

*lineups courtesy of Daily Faceoff

Chicago Blackhawks


2017-18 record: 17-13-5

Goals for: 103

Goals against: 94

2016-17 record vs. Canucks: 2-0-1

Injuries Via RotoWorld:  Corey Crawford (undisclosed, day-to-day), Cody Franson (upper body, day-to-day), Michael Rozsival (upper body, day-to-day)

Who’s on offence

Patrick Kane continues to flourish as one of the game’s top all-around stars. He leads the Blackhawks in scoring with 35 points, and should be able to crack the 80-point mark for the third-straight season.

Alex DeBrincat is putting together an excellent rookie season, with 23 points in 35 games. That’s good for second in team scoring, but probably not good enough to win the Calder Trophy over Boeser, right?

Who’s on defence

It’s always an adventure when Duncan Keith plays the Canucks. At age 34, his Norris Trophy days are probably behind him, and he’s yet to score this season. Nonetheless, his 54.2 Corsi For percentage suggests that Keith is still a top-pairing defenceman that can shut down this Vancouver offence.

Brent Seabrook will return to his hometown. The Richmond, B.C. native has plenty of great memories playing against the Canucks. But like Keith, he’s struggling offensively with just one goal on the season.

Who’s in net

Look for Anton Forsberg to get the start, with Crawford injures. Chicago is used to having strong performances from their backups, but Forsberg owns a mere 3.12 goals against average on the season.

Projected lineup

Patrick Sharp – Jonathan Toews – Brandon Saad

Nick Schmaltz – Artem Anisimov – Patrick Kane

Alex DeBrincat – Ryan Hartman – Richard Panik

Lance Bouma – Tommy Wingels – John Hayden

Duncan Keith – Jordan Oesterle

Connor Murphy – Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling – Jan Rutta

*lineups courtesy of Daily Faceoff


Alex Hoegler

4. 94. 1. 104. Final

The Canucks have a knack for playing the Blackhawks close, but I’m not seeing it here. Chicago isn’t as dominant as past years, but they’re far more skilled up front and on the blue line. Kane and Toews will be too much for an injury-riddled Canucks team.

Andrew Nazareth

104. Final. 1. 94. 3

Boeser takes full advantage of the blackhawks playing their backup goalie, and scores yet another goal. Jake Virtanen continues his run of strong play and also gets a point. Anders Nilsson gets the start.

Scott Rosenhek

4. 94. 1. 104. Final

The Canucks spiral of mediocrity will continue. Boeser and Daniel Sedin will score, but for some reason Nic Dowd will play more minutes than both of them. If you haven’t noticed lately, the Canucks are just playing to not lose, which won’t work out tonight. Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews are going off during this game.

Tyler Shipley

Final. 5. 94. 1. 104

Next: Canucks top prospects of week 11: 2018 World Juniors Preview

When you lose players that score, you have to replace them with players that score. Travis Green hasn’t done that; he’s limited the ice time of the two best players called up from Utica, and in forcing them to play defence or sit, he’s undermined their legitimate offensive capabilities. This story doesn’t end well for Vancouver.