By Brian Hamilton
1:42 PM CDT, April 13, 2011
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- No one posted line matchups in the Rogers Arena media room for all to see and examine.
But it seems almost inevitable that the already crackling series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Canucks will offer a premier duel, with two high-powered top lines featuring multiple MVP candidates colliding starting in Game 1.
And perhaps the most salient difference between last postseason and this postseason is that the Canucks readily and heartily welcome the challenge.
"(Coach Alain Vigneault) is not shying away from putting us out there against the other teams' top line," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said following his team's morning skate Wednesday.
"He rarely does match lines so we can get away from those kinds of matchups. That's something we enjoy. We play our best hockey against top players. If that happens, we're up for the challenge, sure."
The goal one postseason series ago, according to the Canucks, was to get the masterful Sedin line away from top Hawks checkers and the defensive pair of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
That likely won't occur this time. Moreover, the Hawks' best bet may be sending Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp out against the Canucks' top line, making it an exhilarating power-on-power matchup. It would feature three MVP candidates (both Sedins and Toews) and six skaters who accrued 450 points between them.
The Canucks believe any line-matching favors the deeper side, and that means they believe those tactics favor them.
"If we do our job against them, the other lines are going to step up and score goals," Canucks winger Daniel Sedin said. "That's the mindset we have to have. Maybe we didn't have that last year. We thought we had to do something more, something extraordinary. We're going to go out there and play our game and if we can score a goal or two, it's going to be fine. But we trust other lines to step up and do their job.
"If you're struggling against a certain lineup, you try to get away from them. But we have such a deep lineup this year, we shouldn't be worried about those kinds of things. If we play against Keith and Seabrook and the Toews line, and we do a good job against them, we know other lines are going to step up and win the game for us."
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