Blackhawks Confidential

Vancouver seeks bloody redemption against Hawks team it 'doesn't like'

roberto6.jpgApparently no one has convinced the Vancouver Canucks there are no big games in October. By the sound of it, there will be blood Wednesday night at the United Center.


"We don't like them very much, and they don't like us," the Canucks' Shane O'Brien said.
If you haven't noticed, blood runs just as red in the fall as the spring.


"We have an edge going in there to play them again," Willie Mitchell boasted.


Pretty bold talk from a Canucks team that hasn't been playing very well.


Forget for the moment that Cristobal Huet's chance at redemption has been delayed. Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo arrives in town saying that payback is on his agenda after he failed another huge challenge in the Western Conference semifinals last May that tainted a mostly high-profile resume.


Shakespeare never set the stage for a better passion play. Luongo uttered a single word to Vancouver media when asked what returning to the scene to avenge his playoff murder really meant to him.


"Redemption," he said, perhaps in his best raspy Goalfather imitation.

Swell the threatening, ominous music. Cue the henchmen stage left. Yet another rematch with yet another playoff victim of Chicago's last spring could mean yet another historic game to rival that recent night to remember with Calgary.


So let me throw a weird scenario at you. What if starting goalie Andy Niemi plays so poorly against an aroused and unstoppable Vancouver that Huet has to sweep into action from a seat on the bench to save the game? What if Huet is the one primed to steal Luongo's chance at redemption from him?


I like the sound of it. Huet rises from the ashes by burning Luongo. Canuckleheads lose.


When the Flames blew out to a 5-0 lead at the United Center Oct. 12. Coach Joel Quenneville inserted Niemi in place of Huet when it was a 3-0 deficit, and after giving up a couple goals himself, Niemi was the beneficiary of the remarkable comeback that netted an unforgettable 6-5 victory for the Blackhawks.


We will learn a little more Wednesday about what makes the Hawks tick. The Canucks aren't treating this as just another game, even if it would be rather important for them, anyway, considering they are 0-4 on the road this season and a disappointing 3-5 overall.


While their focus should be on their present woes, the past has yet to be buried in their minds.


"They took something from us that the other 28 teams didn't," Vancouver's Ryan Kesler said about the postseason loss to Chicago. "We're still upset. Everybody still remembers the feeling after Game 6. There will be a sense of redemption."


Luongo hasn't closeted all the collateral damage from losing to the Hawks in the playoffs. The mental anguish lingers.


"I still can't explain it," he said. "Unfortunately, it has ruined a lot of things for me."


Tough guy Mitchell hopes his team doesn't try to get physical with the Hawks in the wrong way. That means there's a possibility all hell could break loose if Vancouver gets behind and tries to lash out in anger.


"I hope we don't get in there with...a big, tough, line-brawl mentality," Mitchell said in his look ahead to Chicago. "Some of our failure in that series (last May) is we thought we needed to go in there and show who was tougher, instead of just sucking it up and playing the game, which they did.


"Guys like me have to make sure we tone things down. Because that's what got us into problems. We can't get distracted from our focus on how we need to play and that's controlling our emotions."


There will be plenty of raw emotion roiling around Wednesday. For late October, it figures to be an unusually tense atmosphere.


No big games in October? Don't tell Luongo and the Canucks. They want blood.

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10 Comments

Forklift said:

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You can bank on Mitchell running Kane in the early going.

You can also bank on Luongo seeing an awful lot of Byfuglien's ample backside.

Since the Hawks lack an enforcer, they need to use the power play to make the Canucks pay for any transgressions.

Mike Kiley said:

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Where's your faith in that new fourth-line enforcer Andrew Ebbett, the mighty mite who should scare the hell out of any little rats kicking around in the UC basement.

FearlessFreep said:

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Hank Sedin, Salo and Rypien are out for Vancouver, so they are undermanned. I agree that Mitchell and O'Brien will be looking to knock around Kane at the outset. It will be tough for the Hawks to answer if this happens, the best way to do that is to skate circles around them. I'd expect Lou to have a great game tonight. They haven't run on the road yet? Yikes - that's just begging to be snapped. With Toews finally scoring his first goal on Saturday, watch him begin to start scoring in bunches, starting tonight.

Dave Morris said:

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What say you, Freep? Rick The Ripper is OUT? With a hangnail?

There goes my doom and gloom motivational speech for the Hawks.

But the VanNoodles still have Dirty Darcy Hordichuk, he who scores embarassingly important goals versus Les Hawques. Wait, The Finn Is In 2nite.

Personally, I hope Kiley's scenario of a Niemi nadir followed by a Huet Hallelujah is just his attempt to get Hollywood producers to turn his script into a movie. With Megan Fox, no less, as the love interest.

Nuke The Nucks.

FearlessFreep said:

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I heard Rypien tweaked his groin and skipped practice yesterday. He may end up playing tonight, but 'Nucks might want to skip him with all the other injuries they have.

Dave Morris said:

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Not the groin tweak again.

Hope you're right and Rypien sits. He's a mad dog.

Dave Morris said:

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Of course, if Rypien was a Blackhawk, I'd say he was an enthusiastic young man who calls his mother every day to see how she is.
;-)

CT said:

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Here's hoping that Troy Brouwer takes the time to introduce Wee Willie Mitchell to the boards several times during the game.

Mike Kiley said:

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Brouwer should be in anybody's top 5 difference makers so far for the Hawks this season. You wouldn't want those hands giving you a butt injection of steroids, but I bet Brouwer's bare hands can crush walnuts this Christmas with the best of them. He'd be good at parties.

Dave Morris said:

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Well, Mike, Troy crushed a nut tonight...but the Nucks crushed Toews and emasculated the Blackhawks.

Antti's antics weren't enough.

The Hawks had NO stuff.

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