Over time the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks have had their moments of discontent, but since 2009 a mutual hatred has ignited between the two as they met in the playoffs three consecutive years. Despite the rosters changing in recent years, the Canucks and Blackhawks still make up for one of the NHL’s most heated rivalries.
Why is that, you ask? Maybe it’s because Ryan Kesler once called Andrew Ladd a “coward.” Maybe it’s because Dave Bolland once called the Sedin twins “sisters,” and Alain Vigneault responded by saying Bolland has an “IQ the size of bird seed and a face only a mother can love.” Maybe it’s because Raffi Torres once got away with a thunderous, questionable hit on Brent Seabrook in the playoffs. Maybe it’s because Duncan Keith’s elbow gave Daniel Sedin a concussion. (We could go all day.)
Nevertheless, these two rivals renew acquaintances Friday night in Vancouver. As a refresher, here are the Top 5 bitter moments between the Canucks and Blackhawks:
1. Game 7
Vancouver entered the 2011 playoffs as the Presidents’ Trophy winners, while the defending-champion Blackhawks snuck in as the eighth seed. The Canucks won the first three games of the series and were in full control. Then Raffi Torres hit Brent Seabrook and lit a fire under the Blackhawks. Chicago won games 4 and 5 by a combined score of 12-2, and won Game 6 in overtime after Roberto Luongo came into the game in relief for surprise starter Cory Schneider, who suffered an injury in the third period.
It set the stage for an epic Game 7.
Heading into the series’ decisive contest, the entire city of Vancouver was on edge. Alex Burrows eased the arena’s tension with a tally just 2:43 into the game. The Canucks failed to expand the lead as Corey Crawford kept the Blackhawks in it with one big save after another. Chicago finally tied the game, shorthanded, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:56 to play.
The Blackhawks were buzzing in overtime, threatening to end the Canucks’ banner season prematurely — until Chris Campoli turned the puck over to Burrows…
Though it came in the first round, this momentous win exorcised the Canucks’ demons and was the catapult they needed for a Cup final run.
2. Patrick Kane’s hat-trick game
A big contributor to the Canucks’ demons against Chicago was Game 6 in 2009.
This second-round series laid the foundation for the rivalry between these two teams. It was a hard-fought battle through five games, with the emotions spilling over from their regular-season brawl (see below). Vancouver was the favourite, simply because Chicago was so young and experiencing their first postseason since 2002.
However, the Blackhawks held a 3-2 series lead through five games. They were just starting to get into Luongo’s head. And then Game 6 happened.
In a wild back-and-forth game, the Canucks rallied to take a 5-4 lead with 7:45 remaining — but Patrick Kane wasn’t about to let the Blackhawks lose. Kane tied the game just 45 seconds after Vancouver went ahead, then capped off a hat trick with a sick backhanded shot that eluded Luongo…
The highlight-reel goal finished off a 7-5 victory for the Blackhawks to advance to the conference finals and eliminate Vancouver. As a result, Canucks fans had the Blackhawks’ catchy goal song, Chelsea Dagger, stuck in their head all summer long.
3. Chris Chelios strikes twice in 1995
In May of 1995, the Canucks and Blackhawks embarked upon their second postseason meeting. Their first meeting came in 1982, when the Canucks won in five games and Roger Neilson took a trainer’s towel and placed it on a hockey stick, as if to wave a white flag in response to questionable officiating.
But this series in 1995 was over in a blur.
The fourth-seeded Blackhawks took the first two games at home against the sixth-seeded Canucks before the series shifted to Vancouver. Games 3 and 4 of that series ended up being the final two games played at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, both having the same result: a Chris Chelios overtime goal.
In overtime of Game 3, Bernie Nicholls found a wide-open Chelios, who deked Kirk McLean and slid home the overtime winner to put the Blackhawks up 3-0 in the series. Two nights later in Game 4, Chelios struck again in overtime to complete the sweep. Chelios buried a feed from Denis Savard to silence Vancouver and advance to the conference finals.
4. Luongo melts down in 2010 series
It’s not that the Canucks lost this Western Conference Semifinal series — it’s how they lost it. Vancouver played well in Chicago in the series, as they won games 1 and 5 and should’ve won Game 2. But it was their play at home, particularly Luongo, that was so demoralizing for Canucks fans.
In the three home games, the Canucks surrendered a grand total of 17 goals (Luongo allowed 16). The defence didn’t help Luongo, but Luongo’s confidence was fragile all series long. He gave up hat tricks to Dustin Byfuglien and Jonathan Toews in games 3 and 4, respectively, and imploded in a 5-1 Game 6 loss.
It was a stunningly poor display of goaltending from a star netminder like Luongo, who sarcastically said after Game 6: “I’m going to leave tonight with my head up. Not like last year (2009), I battled for 60 minutes and kept it under seven goals, so improvement was made.”
If the Blackhawks weren’t in Luongo’s head after Game 6 in 2009, they were after the second-round rematch in 2010.
5. The brawl that started it all
March 29, 2009, is when the bad blood escalated to new heights between the Blackhawks and Canucks.
Midway through the third period of this late-season tilt, a brawl took place after Chicago’s Byfuglien crosschecked/punched Luongo in the mask, causing the goaltender to fall back into his net. The Canucks took exception to Byfuglien’s actions, and it all spiraled out of control when Vancouver’s Shane O’Brien aggressively went after Adam Burish during the stoppage in play.
In a matter of moments, the following ensued: Ben Eager fought Kevin Bieksa, Burrows pulled Duncan Keith’s hair, O’Brien was tackled by a referee and coaches Alain Vigneault and Joel Quenneville barked at each other between the benches. High drama.