Blackhawks vs. Canucks 2nd-round preview

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The Blogs

Second City Hockey vs. Nucks Misconduct

The Storyline

Vancouver put a quick stop to the St. Louis Blues with a sweep in Round One, while the Blackhawks took six games to fight off a gritty, but battered Calgary squad. This matchup pits deep, diverse lineups backed by excellent goaltending. It has all the makings of a classic playoff series.

The Numbers

Chicago Vancouver
  Record 46-24-12 6th 45-27-10 7th
  Pts % 0.634 6th 0.610 7th
  Goals For/Game 3.17 4th 2.96 11th
  Goals Against/Game 2.55 5th 2.60 7th
  5-on-5 GF/GA 1.18 5th 1.21 3rd
  PP% 19.3 11th 18.8 16th
  PK% 80.6 17th 81.4 16th
  Shots/Game 32.7 5th 28.5 24th
  Shots Against/Game 28.6 8th 29.2 10th
  FO % 48.1 22nd 51.9 5th

A very evenly matched pair of teams here, but the skaters for Chicago get a slight edge in terms of the Shots and Goals For/Against. Another point to consider here is that Vancouver has been much better in the 2nd half of the season than the 1st, so current performance is likely better than many of these total-year figures.

Goaltending

Chicago


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Cristobal Huet 41 2351 20 15 4 5 99 2.53 1087 988 .909 3
2008 - Nikolai Khabibulin 42 2467 25 8 7 1 96 2.33 1192 1096 .919 3

Vancouver


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Roberto Luongo 54 3181 33 13 7 5 124 2.34 1542 1418 .920 9

Penalties

No OtF preview would be complete without a look at Penalty Plus/Minus, to see which players will head to, or send other players to, the box:

 Chicago Penalties Drawn  Vancouver Penalties Drawn
  Player  Draws  Fouls  Pen +/-   Player  Draws  Fouls  Pen +/-
Ben Eager  33   45  -12  Alex Burrows  58   48   10 
Patrick Kane  32   19   13  Ryan Kesler  37   23   14 
Dustin Byfuglien  31   29   2  Kevin Bieksa  34   35   -1
Jonathan Toews  29   23   6  Daniel Sedin  32   18   14
Dave Bolland  28   21   7  Henrik Sedin  31   23   8
Kris Versteeg  27   14   13  Darcy Hordichuk  28   30   -2
Penalties Taken Penalties Taken
Ben Eager  33   45   -12  Shane O'Brien  27   57   -30
Dustin Byfuglien  31   29   2  Alex Burrows  58   48   10
Brent Seabrook  16   28   -12  Mattias Ohlund  13   46   -33
Matt Walker  16   26   -10  Kevin Bieksa  34   35   -1
Duncan Keith  8   26   -18  Darcy Hordichuk  28   30   -2
Adam Burish  25   24   1  Willie Mitchell  22   27   -5

Both teams get plenty of power play action (Chicago was 3rd in the league, Vancouver 9th), but on the flip side, the Blackhawks appear to have more discipline in avoiding penalties.  Vancouver had to fight off the 5th-most penalty kills in the league this season (371), while Chicago ranked 18th (336). The Blackhawks burned Calgary on the power play in the 1st round, and the Canucks must take care if they're to avoid a similar fate. The guys to keep an eye on are Shane O'Brien and Mattias Ohlund on Vancouver, who held down the very bottom of the Penalty Plus/Minus rankings this year.

The Prediction

Expect a ton of hype over Pittsburgh/Washington in the East, and there's lots of bad blood between Detroit and Anaheim in the West, but I think this could be the most entertaining and closely fought battle in the 2nd round. Based on Vancouver's 2nd-half performance, home-ice advantage, and the hot goaltending of Roberto Luongo (who never gave up more than 2 goals to St. Louis in the opening round), I'm taking the Vancouver Canucks in a nail-biter of a series. I expect Luongo to make the difference with a shutout or two that will frustrate the talented Chicago forwards.

NHL Playoffs Blog Coverage, Schedule and Scores - SB Nation

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