The Blackhawks visit Vancouver for the first of two Canadian matches Monday night and both contenders are looking to stake a claim with two precious points.
With a win tonight, the Vancouver Canucks can clinch the Northwest Division and solidify itself at third place in the Western Conference. Six points separate the Northwest Division’s first-place Canucks from second place Minnesota Wild with three games remaining on each schedule. Vancouver has gone 6 – 3 – 1 over its last 10 games and outscored opponents by a margin of 29 – 20.
The Canucks have been able to effectively shut down opponents at Rogers Arena this season, recording four of its seven shutouts at home. Vancouver is currently riding a 7-game home win streak, including a shooutout thriller against Detroit on Saturday night.
Chicago can clinch the President’s Trophy tonight with a win against Vancouver and a Penguins loss in Ottawa. The President’s Trophy is presented to the team who records the most points overall at the end of the season. Chicago has already clinched the Central Division and Western Conference, currently holding first place league-wide with 73 points.
The Blackhawks and Canucks have each taken a shootout win on home ice this season with all four goaltenders dressing for one of the matches. Daniel and Henrik Sedin have combined for 6 points (1G, 5A) against Chicago this season, making them a factor in each goal against Chicago this season. In the third and final regular season matchup, the Blackhawks will want to shut the Swedish duo down early and often if they want the President’s trophy tonight.
Vancouver is missing some key members of its roster, including Manny Malhotra who will be missing the rest of the season with further complications from an existing eye injury sustained over two seasons ago. Chris Higgens and Chris Tanev are both out of tonight’s lineup with lower body injuries and are not expected to play this week. Kevin Bieska has been listed as ‘questionable’ for Monday’s game in Vancouver – he has missed three games with a lower body injury.
Chicago is missing Michae Rozsival and Patrick Sharp with upper body injuries. Sharp missed several weeks in the month of March and only returned for two games before taking a seat due to further complications. Among some ambiguity from Joel Quenneville, Sharp may be ready to play for the playoffs beginning next Tuesday. Ray Emery is for Chicago as well with a back injury. Corey Crawford is expected to start Monday night in Vancouver.