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Thursday, October 22

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Blackhawks Wed Oct 20 2010

Canucks need to make statement in return to UC

With the Hawks winners of 3 straight and back atop the Central Division after a 1-2-1 start, things are right again at the Madhouse - not that there was much reason to distress this early in the season. Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp have been setting teams on fire, with Hossa leading the league in goals with 7 and points with 11, and Sharp right behind with 6 goals, including 3 straight game-winners. And Marty Turco's looked more than fine in net and made some big saves the past few games. That's not to say that all's well in Chicagoland, as the defense has been porous and some key players have yet to notice it's the regular season, but that's for another time.

Tonight, on the other hand, is one of the first games that's been circled on the calendar since the schedule was announced, as the Blackhawks welcome their favorite second-round punching bag the Vancouver Canucks to town. Even without Dustin Byfuglien around to torment the 'Nucks and goalie Roberto Luongo, there's no love lost between the two, meaning tonight's rare 8 p.m. start figures to provide some great entertainment (watch on Comcast Sportsnet or listen on WGN radio) .

While the changes in the Hawks this offseason saw many predicting the rise of the Canucks in the West, Vancouver's struggled to a 2-3-1 record and is winless on the road, including last night's 6-2 drubbing by the Minnesota Wild. Luongo was pulled after the 2nd period in that game, but the former captain will most likely be in net trying to atone for both last night and last year's playoff flameout. Meanwhile, the bigger news story out of that game was Rick Rypien's act of idiocy, which not surprisingly has led to his being suspended indefinitely.

Even though the Hawks are still adjusting to new faces and injured players, tonight's game doesn't figure to have near the importance it does for Vancouver. Seems like even though it's still October, the Canucks meltdown level is already rounding into post-season form, and a loss will only fuel that fire.

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