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  • on March 31, 2011 -
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With the Canucks having clinched the Western Conference title (!) ridiculously early this season and being on the verge of our first President’s Trophy, talk naturally turns to playoff opponents.  And, thanks to our last two unceremonious exists from the post-season, talk of playoff opponents seems to always veer, unprovoked, to the Chicago Blackhawks.

I am alarmed to hear so many people say lately that, given the choice, they would prefer to play Los Angeles or Calgary rather than Chicago in the playoffs because the travel would be easier.  The travel.  Do the Canucks’ players, coaches, and management worry about such trivial things?  If so, I can tell you exactly why we lost to the Blackhawks two years in a row: because attention is being paid to the wrong things.  We were overly concerned with the likes of Andrew Ladd.  Dave Bolland.  Ben Eager.  Dustin Byfuglien.  Inane sports writers and even more inane fans gabbed endlessly about how we would cope against such mediocre players; it was all anyone was concerned with.  This year, it seems to be the travel.

Those are precisely the WRONG things to worry about.  I, too, would prefer to play the Kings or the Flames, but not because of the unexceptional players Chicago basically threw away after they won the Stanley Cup, and certainly not because of the travel.  Here are some REAL things to worry about if we have to play Chicago: Jonathan Toews.  Patrick Sharp.  Patrick Kane.  Marian Hossa.  And after them, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on the blue line.  And after them?  God help us if Brian Campbell starts to play the way he used to or if one of their goaltenders inexplicably heats up.  Those are the RIGHT things to be worried about when playing Chicago.  You beat a team by neutralizing its strengths and exploiting its weaknesses, not by worrying about their fringe players or the travel or the alignment of the sun and the moon.  LA?  Sure.  They’ve only recently figured out their goaltending and their top two players are injured.  Calgary?  Sure!  They’ve never had a good team anyway.

If you want to talk about playing Chicago in the playoffs, sure.  If you want to be concerned, that’s alright too; they have at least six bona fide international superstars on their team.  Talk to me about anything you want… just don’t tell me you’re worried about the travel.

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