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Blackhawks bury Canucks, head to Conference Finals

05/15/10
By Colleen Boyle

For two consecutive years in the playoffs, the Blackhawks have prevented the Vancouver Canucks and gold-medal Olympic goalie Roberto Luongo from advancing to Conference finals.

In the six game series, the Blackhawks won all three road games and only one at home before securing an even longer postseason. It only took a couple of hat tricks and a weakened Vancouver defense for the Chicago team to make it happen.

“They didn’t beat us,” Ryan Kesler told the Canadian press, “We beat ourselves.”

The only problem with that mentality is that the Blackhawks DID beat them. In game 3, at Vancouver, Jonathan Toews got his first playoff hat trick leading to phrases like ‘Luongo got tazed’. And then in game 4, Dustin Byfuglien got his second playoff hat trick against Luongo, and every Blackhawks fan remembers the Canadian headline ‘Buffy the Luongo slayer’.

While Vancouver fails to capture their first franchise cup, the Chicago Blackhawks are awaiting their next match up with Western Conference leader San Jose Sharks.

San Jose finished in first at the end of the regular season with only one point ahead of Chicago, but the result is the loss of home ice advantage. The Blackhawks can hardly call this a disadvantage.

Since the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Chicago has won five of six road games while only winning three of six home games.

In the regular season series between Chicago and San Jose, the Blackhawks won three of four meetings and outscored San Jose 17-11. San Jose’s backbone is goaltender Evgeni Nabokov whose regular season record of 44-16-10 is a major factor in the Sharks placement at the top of the Western Conference.

Christobal Huet has been the goaltender in net for all four games against San Jose in the regular—making the playoff series Antti Niemi’s first time starting in net against the San Jose Sharks.

While the Eastern Conference finals have the unusual match-up with the 7th and 8th placed teams, the Western Conference will host the top two teams in an intense playoff series to determine who goes to the Stanley Cup finals.

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