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Blackhawks get first shot at rival Canucks, who are off to a poor start

The Vancouver Canucks might be struggling but not Daniel (left) Henrik Sed(center). | Jim Mone~AP

The Vancouver Canucks might be struggling, but not Daniel (left) and Henrik Sedin (center). | Jim Mone~AP

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Tonight

CANUCKS AT BLACKHAWKS

The facts: 6, Ch. 9, 720-AM.

Updated: December 7, 2011 8:30AM



Last postseason, everyone saw why the Vancouver Canucks are hated in Chicago.

Whether it was their flopping, biting, chirping or cheap-shotting in the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins, not many outside of British Columbia felt compelled to cheer for the Canucks during their unsuccessful championship run.

During the finals, the Globe and Mail had the headline: “Canucks have become NHL’s most hated team.”

But let’s not forget one thing, “After playing them three years in a row [in the playoffs], I think we have a little more ammo than most teams,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Their heated rivalry kicks off a new chapter Sunday at the United Center.

The Hawks have a chance to beat down a staggering rival that has limped out of the gate. The Canucks look nothing like the world-beaters they were last season in the playoffs or in their Presidents’ Trophy-winning regular season.

It’s a perfect time for the Hawks to exact some revenge against the Canucks, who eliminated them in a seven-game, first-round series last season after being knocked out by the Hawks the previous two years.

Vancouver has lost two consecutive games and four of its last six.

They made some changes after the finals, but most of the characters the Hawks and fans have come to detest return.

The Sedins? Unlike their teammates, Henrik and Daniel have done fairly well and continue to produce at a point-per-game clip.

Roberto Luongo? He has struggled, and some are calling for Corey Schneider to play more. Luongo is 4-4-1 with a poor save percentage (.884) and goals-against average (3.19).

Alex Burrows? The hair-puller and biter with top-six skills might miss the game with back spasms.

Ryan Kesler? He’s still getting back on track after offseason hip surgery.

Kevin Bieksa? He’s a minus-8.

Maxim Lapierre? He should get ready to meet Daniel Carcillo.

There’s no denying that the Hawks overhauled their roster in part because of all the liberties Lapierre and other Canucks took against them in the first round. Their toughness was questioned, and the Hawks brought in Carcillo, Jamal Mayers, Steve Montador and Sean O’Donnell as a response.

Considering Carcillo was willing to ramble off names in the summer of some Canucks who bothered him during their run at the Stanley Cup, it’s safe to say he and the rest of the new guys know what the Hawks’ rivalry with the Canucks means.

“It’s going to be an exciting game,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “We’re looking forward to it.”



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