The Chicago Blackhawks have beaten the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup playoffs in each of the last two seasons. Al Dannity says the Canucks will be favored to prove third time is the charm when these teams meet in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
A perfect match-up
The NHL really couldn’t have asked for more from the first round in the Western Conference than Vancouver vs. Chicago. On the one hand you have a Canadian team that looks capable of becoming the first to lift the Stanley Cup since 1993. Facing them will be the defending champions, an Original Six team, based in one of the biggest media markets in the US. That could make for a ratings bonanza, especially given the playoff history between these two teams.
It counts for nothing but…
The winners of the President’s Trophy haven’t exactly been covered in glory when it comes to succeeding in the post-season. It is true that the regular season means nothing in the playoffs. That doesn’t mean NHL betting fans should forget everything we have learned up to now. The Canucks didn’t just take the #1 seed in the Western Conference, they flat out dominated en route to a first place finish. That’s the sign of a team that’s not just good but strong in depth, a crucial trait over a potentially drawn-out series. By contrast the Blackhawks looked nothing like the outfit that lifted the Stanley Cup last year, largely because much of that team is no longer in Chicago. They only made the playoffs because the Stars fluffed a chance to take the #8 seed. While the score is 0-0 when the series begins, the form to now weighs heavily against the defending champions.
Scores to settle
Both of Vancouver’s playoff defeats to Chicago in the last two seasons ended in six games. Both of those series ended with the Canucks losing in front of their home fans. This season Vancouver’s unique fanbase, green men and all, have fuelled some passionate home performances from the Canucks. Mentally the Canucks need to get over the hump in front of the crowd at the Rogers Arena. Having tied the season series 2-2, albeit with one of Vancouver’s defeats coming via shootout, this promises to be a tense and lengthy series.
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