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NHL: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks Series Odds and Predictions
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 4/29/2010

Chicago Blackhawks celebration

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks Series Odds
Chicago -155
Vancouver +125

It is another year and another Chicago/Vancouver Western Conference semifinal matchup. Last season, with the Canucks holding home-ice advantage, the Blackhawks came back from a 2-1 series deficit to win three consecutive games and advance to the Western Conference Finals.

This time the puck drops Friday at the United Center in Chicago. Chicago finds itself a slim favorite, with a slightly higher price than the No. 1 seed Sharks are getting. Chicago won the series, 4-2, last year in the playoffs but in the regular season this year the team’s split their four meetings.

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Both teams had to show the ability to battle back in their respective series. Both teams trailed 2-1 at one point and then won three straight to move on. Vancouver won three straight games, including two at Los Angeles, to eliminate the Kings and advance. The Blackhawks also won two road games in their three-game winning streak to upend the Predators.

There is plenty of bad blood to go around between these teams and this could easily be the most intriguing second round matchup in these NHL playoffs. The teams are already familiar from last season’s playoff series but before that in the regular season, fights broke out all around the ice during their games. The teams exchanged barbs through the media afterwards.

This season the rivalry was brought to a new level when Canucks defensemen Willie Mitchell laid out Jonathan Toews with a hit that sent the Blackhawks star out for two weeks with a concussion. And then during the post-Olympic handshake line Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo, with a gold medal already around his neck, told Chicago’s Patrick Kane that they would meet again in the playoffs.

Vancouver’s Mikael Samuelsson leads all players in these NHL playoffs with seven goals and is second with a plus-minus rating of +8. He might have a harder time getting goals past Chicago’s Antti Niemi, who entered the playoffs as a supposed weak link on Chicago. However, after six games has emerged with the third best goals against average in the playoffs (2.15).

Both teams were favorites throughout their first round series. Both teams will have to get used to playing in the underdog role as home-ice should be enough to make one team the favorite. Chicago is the younger team here but the more playoff tested. The United Center has proven to be the toughest venue to play in during the playoffs. Vancouver will have a puncher’s chance on its home ice but stealing one game in Chicago is asking a lot.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks Series Predictions
Chicago in seven

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