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Opening series far from a first

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Looks like the back door to the playoffs has opened up the opportunity for the Blackhawks to face a familiar foe.

The Hawks and Vancouver Canucks will face off in the playoffs for the third consecutive season after the Hawks were able to back their way in with the Dallas Stars’ loss Sunday night.

“We know we’re going against the top team in the league this year,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘They did everything right all year long, and they’ve got so many weapons and a lot of things we’ve got to be worried about.’’

Quenneville also said the Hawks can be a very dangerous team going forward with a new lease on life.

“I think the enthusiasm of making the playoffs after what we overcame over the course of the year was an amazing accomplishment,” Quenneville said. “That enthusiasm is something we should take forward. And, hey, anything can happen. Last year we saw with [the Philadelphia Flyers getting in the] last game of the year and where they ended up.”

The Hawks lost the first game of both the 2009 and 2010 Western Conference semifinals against the ­Canucks but came back to win four of the next five games to take each series.

Quenneville said Dave Bolland (concussion) has made major progress in the last week, and he hoped the checking center would be able to play a part in the Hawks’ first-round playoff series, though he still wasn’t sure when he could make his return to the lineup.

“Bollie is a special player; I think he means a lot to our team, and he gives us a lot of options,” Quenneville said. “Hopefully, he can be a part early in this first series.”

Bolland, who has been out since suffering the injury March 9, was especially effective for the Hawks against the Canucks’ top line of Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler in the playoff series between the teams last season.

The Hawks and Canucks split their season series 2-2, with each team winning a game on the other’s home ice.

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