While both sides continue to downplay the extent of any revenge that might take place in round two of this budding rivalry, there is no debating that the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks aren’t going to have each other over for Thanksgiving dinner anytime soon.
Adam Burish has already declared there isn’t anyone he’d have a beer with on Vancouver, and the Canucks aren’t exactly offering one. At the very least, the animosity should add to the preparation.
“It definitely gets you fired up and ready to play,” Andrew Ladd said after Friday’s practice. “That never hurts in a playoff series.”
Ladd, of course, has been at the center of the No. 1 feud. He and Canucks forward Ryan Kesler have had their moments with each other dating back to last postseason, but Ladd is echoing what Kelser said earlier in the week. It’s over. At least for now.
“I think the team goals and what we are trying to do in here trumps anything personal that goes on so I think on both [sides] we’re just looking forward to playing and doing what is best for the team,” Ladd said.
Ladd isn’t the only Hawk who has issues with the Canucks.
“Normally when you go into a series, rivalries and grudges build up but for us, it’s already there,” winger Troy Brouwer said. “Guys have players they don’t like and I’m sure it’s the same for them. As a collective team we had such a battle last year in the playoffs and it carried over to the regular season this year. For us to be able to play them again, it just adds to the excitement and anticipation of the series. You know, we don’t like each other before it even starts.”
Brouwer says there is “quite a bit of talking on the ice,” but didn’t share some of the specific nastiness. As for Joel Quenneville, he likes the intensity the rivalry brings to the game but doesn’t want his team to get caught up in responding after the whistle.
“Discipline is going to be a big factor in this series and we want to be smart about it because we know what their power play can do,” Quenneville said.
“Playoff series cultivate that kind of animosity towards one another. You get rivalries over time but I think playoffs is the best way to get to that stage where you don’t like the guy you’re playing next to.”
Two players who seem to be above all the feuding are the talented twins, Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Third-line players when they first entered the league, they have taken over as the faces of the Vancouver franchise. Henrik was just named a finalist for the Hart trophy, given out to the league's MVP. As is often the case with twins, the two have an uncanny connection. On the ice, that connection helped them score a combined 197 points this season, despite Daniel missing 19 games due to an injury.
“You want to play physical against them but they’re pretty slippery,” Seabrook explained. “They seem to be able to get away from checks and it doesn’t seem much fazes them.”
Seabrook has seen them do their thing enough times on the ice so maybe he’s learned some of their tricks.
“I don’t think you can ever learn exactly what they are doing out there,” he said. “They seem to be able to make plays through their legs and through yours, and back and forth.”
“You have to get all five guys to help you out.”
Which three Hawks forwards see the Sedins the most is up for debate. Quenneville could call on Dave Bolland’s line, but are wingers Kris Vertseeg and Andrew Ladd up to the task? If not Bolland, then John Madden, along with Dustin Byfgulien and Troy Brouwer, might get the assignment.
“You just have to try and limit them,” Brouwer said. “You know they are going to make plays and they are going to score on you, but if you can limit their ability to have space and room, that’s how you have a chance with them.”
Quenneville knows what his team is up against with the Swedish twins.
“It’s not an easy night trying to contain them,” he said. “That’s an ongoing challenge every shift. They’ve got so many moves, there will be some things we’ve never seen before.”
Jonathan Toews may have offered the best strategy for limiting them.
“Keep the puck,” Toews said. “You have to limit your mistakes and keep the puck and make them play in their own end.”
Easier said than done.