Canucks face a familiar foe

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:18 PM ET

If the NHL playoffs were to start prior to Thursday night, the Canucks would face a familiar foe.

Sitting atop the West, Vancouver would take on the eighth-ranked team in the conference, which so happens to be their next opponents, the Chicago Blackhawks – the team that has ousted the Canucks from the postseason the last two years.

The defending Stanley Cup champions are trying to stay afloat in the pack, battling for those final playoffs spots, while the Canucks are coasting above the rest of the league with 75 points. They are four points clear of East leaders Philadelphia Flyers and seven ahead of second-place Detroit in the West.

The 'Hawks struggled early in the season but have recently putting together a solid stretch of games. The Canucks are on yet another roll, winning four straight by a combined score of 19-3.

On Friday at Rogers Arena, the two sides will meet for the final time in the regular season, with Chicago leading the series 2-1, in a game that features seven All-Stars.

Among them is a red-hot Ryan Kesler, who scored his 29th and 30th goals Wednesday in Phoenix. The second-line centre is on pace for 47 tallies, well past his previous career high of 26.

But Kesler isn't the only Canuck on a roll. Alex Burrows has goals in four straight games, while Daniel Sedin has points in seven straight. Not to mention Roberto Luongo's monster stretch with no regulation losses in 18 games, going 13-0-5 since Dec. 5.

On his way

Sami Salo has reportedly been sent down to the Manitoba Moose for a 14-day conditioning stint.

The oft-injured defenceman has yet to suit up for the Canucks this season after tearing his Achilles tendon in the summer.


Videos

Photos