Dave Bolland walked into the Blackhawks locker room with a grin on his face. Its a game against Vancouver tonight, a date that Bolland probably circled on the calendar.
I love this day. I think the guys always love this day, too, Bolland said. Were playing Vancouver, its a great rivalry and its going to be a hard, tough game.
The Blackhawks will be without Duncan Keith (left hand) again tonight, but that wont quell the buzz that always surrounds a Blackhawks-Canucks tilt. Its a rivalry that was born in the playoffs and bolstered every time they meet, be it regular- or postseason.
There are some games over an 82-game schedule that just feel like another game. This is the exact opposite of that, captain Jonathan Toews said. Ive said it multiple times. Theres a lot of motivation in a game like this.
Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks lineup will be comparable to what it was against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Canucks, meanwhile, will be without Sami Salo (groin) and Alex Burrows (back) tonight. Aaron Rome (finger) is a game-time decision.
The motivation for the Blackhawks is to keep doing what they have been over the first month of the season. The Blackhawks have been rolling right along, getting points in all but two games. But with the Canucks, theres always that extra incentive, whether youve been with the Blackhawks for years or you just got here.
People around the league get the sentiment, Toews said. The new guys have done a great job of just coming in here and playing and doing their job and being a part of this team. Im sure everyone is very aware of the rivalry between the two and were prepared to play our best game.
For the Canucks, its a little different right now. They bested the Blackhawks in seven games last season but theyre not thinking too much about that right now. The Canucks have struggled out of the gate and have lost four of their last six. So its not so much about beating Chicago as it is getting points.
(The Game 7 victory) seems like a long time ago now, Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. It was a really good game at the time, one of the biggest arguably in franchise history. It felt like we won the Cup after we won that game. But thats in the past now. Its not going to help us tonight.