Canucks eager for Hawks rematch
The postseason rematch was set Monday night when the second-seeded Blackhawks eliminated the Nashville Predators. Now Chicago will try to send the Canucks into summer vacation for the second straight year.
The Blackhawks took care of Vancouver in six games when the clubs met in the 2009 Western Conference semifinals -- the same round as this year's matchup.
"There is a lot of history and bad blood there," Canucks defenseman Shane O'Brien said Tuesday, two days after the Canucks finished off the Los Angeles Kings in six games. "Every guy in the room remembers the feeling of leaving Chicago last year. It was one of the worst feelings I had ever been through.
"We definitely want to get some redemption on those guys."
The ill will is felt on the other side, too. The Blackhawks, who will have home-ice advantage in the series, don't care for the Canucks much, either.
"It's pretty easy to say that," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said.
Last year's loss stuck with the Canucks for some time. Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who backstopped Canada's run to the Olympic gold medal earlier this year, had tears in his eyes after allowing seven goals in the final game of the series against Chicago.
"That's long gone for me," said Luongo. "You live and learn from those things.
"It was a tough way to go out, but sometimes in life you've got to learn from your bad experiences and move on and use them in the future."
The bad feelings between the teams carried over into this season. Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell flattened Jonathan Toews with a hit last fall that knocked the Chicago captain out of several games with a concussion.
In January, Vancouver's Ryan Kesler and Chicago's Andrew Ladd fought during a game. When it was over, Kesler called Ladd a coward and accused him of breaking his nose with a cross-check during the playoffs.
"I'm not too worried about him," Kesler said Tuesday. "I am more worried about winning the series and trying to get even that way. No payback. I'm just looking at winning the series."
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said a certain amount of disdain is common during the postseason.
"We're starting ahead of the schedule, I guess, because of our playoff experience against this team," he said.
The teams split four meetings this season.
Chicago (52-22-8) finished the regular season with 112 points to win the Central Division crown -- the Blackhawks' first division title in 17 years.
The Canucks (49-28-5) won their third Northwest Division crown in four years and earned the No. 3 seed in the West.
Last year's series turned in the fourth game in Chicago. Vancouver led 1-0 late in the third period, and had a chance to go up 3-1 in the series. The Blackhawks tied the game and then won it 2-1 in overtime.
The loss seemed to sap the Canucks emotionally and they lost the next two games.
"We are a more mature team," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa he said. "With experience we have a lot confidence.
"We go into this confident. We are going into it knowing what to expect, how to play, not to get rattled when we are down. Hopefully that makes us a better team."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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