Game of the night - Oct. 20 - Canucks, Blackhawks renew battle

Vancouver Canucks (2-3-1) at Chicago Blackhawks (4-2-1), United Center, Chicago, Ill.

There is a lot to like about Chicago - the skyline along the lake. Wrigley Field. Maxwell Street Polish.

There is also a lot to dislike - high taxes. Potholes you could hide Chilean miners in. Bitter, winter weather off that same beautiful lake. The Cubs.

For the Canucks, who will face the Blackhawks for the first time since again being ousted by the eventual Stanley Cup champions last spring, it's a song that makes them have disdain for the Windy City.

The 'Hawks play the Fratellis' "Chelsea Dagger" after every goal scored at home. With apologies to William Congreve, music hath not the charms to soothe the savage breast on this one

Kinda catchy. Kinda grating after a while - especially if your goalie keeps getting beat, and some 20,000 fans in the Midwest, and perhaps just as many back home, let you know it.

"Worst song in hockey. I don't even want to listen to it anymore. I was in the press box last game in Chicago, and I heard it six times, and I was cringing every time, so ... we all know about that song in this room, and we all hate it." - Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa.

During the 2009-10 regular season, Vancouver and Chicago were about as evenly matched as you could. The teams split four games with the Canucks outscoring the Blackhawks 11-10. Vancouver was 2 for 13 with the man-advantage, slightly better than Chicago's 1 for 16.

Far different story in the postseason.

Chicago advanced to the Western Conference finals in six games, winning three including the clincher in British Columbia. The key was Game 4 at the former GM Place, where captain Jonathan Toews recorded a hat trick, notching three of the 'Hawks' four power-play tallies.

It was also helped close out a rematch of their 2009 semifinals matchup, taken by Chicago in six games.

"We wanted this opportunity," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said in May after the most recent series loss. "We wanted this challenge, and for the second year in a row we weren't able to get it done."

Who to blame? Bobby Lu.

Roberto Luongo certainly has the pedigree - and the 12-year, $64-million contract - to be considered among the best goaltenders in the NHL, but truth is he's melted down in the postseason, posting a 17-17 record in spite of a goals-against average just under 2 1/2.

Olympic gold medal winner? Sure. Undying love of your country. Yes. But until you hoist a Cup, it means nothing.

If there is one thing these teams can agree on is they enjoy fighting: In 20 games over the past two seasons, they've combined for more than 700 penalty minutes.

While both teams still have tough personnas, most of the fighting spirit may no longer be there. Chicago has parted ways with Dustin Byfuglien and agitators Ben Eager and Adam Burish. Shane O'Brien and Darcy Hordichuk are no longer with the Canucks, and Alexandre Burrows is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery.

I say most of the fighting spirit because the highlight of Vancouver's 6-2 blowout loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night came in the second period. As the Canucks' Rick Rypien was ushered off to the dressing room following another fight with Brad Staubitz, he grabbed a double-handful of a jersey worn by a Wild fan who was clapping.

Three-game suspension? Five? Someone in the 604 may be getting a call tomorrow. (UPDATE: Suspended indefinitely pending a hearing with the NHL.)

Luongo was lifted after 40 minutes - the third straight time he's failed to play a full game in St. Paul, and he's surrendered 16 goals over that stretch.

Yeah, elite. Maybe Mike Milbury knew something many years ago when he shipped Luongo off the Island to Florida.

Luongo, who's expected to start at the UC, is 5-3-0 with a 2.50 GAA, .913 save percentage and two shutouts during the regular season at Chicago since joining the Canucks in 2006.

Chicago has won three in a row, and rallied for the second straight time Monday with a 3-2 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues.

Maran Hossa - named the NHL's second star of the week earlier in the day - scored two late third-period goals, and Patrick Sharp notched the game-winner with 1:10 to play in extra time.

Hossa leads the NHL with seven goals and 11 points, and Sharp has netted five of his six goals over the last three contests.

“I feel really good so far,” Hossa said. “There’s still things I should be working on, but so far the puck is going in for me.”

He's not playing at his best? Scary thought.

The pick? Given their short turnaround from having played in Minnesota, the Canucks are going to be frustrated - and hearing "Chelsea Dagger" a lot.


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