Like my Round 1 preview for the Kings, instead of your traditional series preview where I break down the forwards, defense, goaltending and whatever else people break down, I'm straying from the traditional. Don't worry if you are interested in that stuff I'm sure I'll link to blogs who are doing the more traditional thing.

This time round, as part of my series preview, I've enlisted the help of Andrew Bernier from Blackhawks Down Low to answer a few questions heading into the series. Andrew and some guy, very originally named ChiBlackhawks, writes over there at that their fine site. I'm sure we'll get to know them, hate them and maybe end up as friends with them at the end of the series, who knows. Andrew will become my new Blogger Buddy™ for the series, you can find Andrew on twitter and I do suggest you follow him so you can get the other half to my conversations/trash talking.


Benched Whale: What is the strength of the Canucks over the Hawks?
Blackhawks Down Low: The Canucks have the Hawks beat in net.  I like what I've seen out of Niemi so far, but he's still pretty new to playoff hockey.  We all know about Luongo's resume.  Niemi has a chance to prove himself in this series, but going in the edge is with Lu.

BW: What is the Canucks weakness against the Hawks?
BHDL: The Hawks are a very talented team offensively and I'm not sure Vancouver has the top defensive pairing guys to shut down the top two lines for the Hawks.  Maybe that just comes from me not knowing enough about the Canucks, but once you get past Ehrhoff there really isn't someone who can do that job.

BW: Looking back at last year, what in the main difference between your team this year compared to last year? Is it better or worse?
BHDL: I don't think there's a team-wide difference from last year.  Hossa is a slight upgrade over Havlat mainly in the defensive end.  Kane can actually play some defense now.  Dave Bolland has been a shell of his former self since having back surgery.

Defensively, the Hawks have been a rollercoaster since the Olympics.  They've looked good so far in the playoffs, but towards the end of the regular season it was pretty bad.  Campbell has played limited minutes in games 5 and 6, which really helped the Hawks breakout.  You can still tell he hasn't been 100% though.  Kim Johnsson is assumed to be dead and if he makes an appearance it will be Weekend at Bernie's style.  Dustin Byfuglien will hopefully be moved back to forward just to screw with Luongo.  We've loved what we've gotten from Sopel all season.  He's been a warrior and a great 5th/6th D and PKer.  We joke that he knows he can't get any uglier so he throws his face in front of shots.

Continue after the jump for the rest of BHDL's answers...

BW: What are you looking forwards to about the series?
BHDL: I'm looking forward to adding to this rivalry.  There's a few Canucks players that I'm starting to really dislike.  I'm sure I'd love Kesler if he played for the Hawks, but man does he drive me nuts right now.  There's just a passion in this matchup that wasn't there against Nashville (and the Preds are in our own division).  It should make for some really exciting hockey.

BW: Does this series pick up right where it left off last year with all the grittiness?
BHDL: I think we're going to see a whole lot of shoving after the whistle.  Guys like Ladd and Byfuglien are sure to mix it up for the Hawks.  I don't know if we'll see a ton of Hawks 4th liners dropping the gloves.  Eager has been bumped from the lineup for Brian Bickell who's been up on the first line.  Burish hasn't been his usual annoying self lately, but I think he'll turn it up against Vancouver.


BW: Do you believe in the Marian Hossa curse?
BHDL: NOOOOO. Hossa has had a decent playoffs so far. He's been creating offensive chances, but not finding the back of the net enough.  He's always rock solid defensively and puts in great effort, so I'm not too worried about being cursed.



Thanks to Andrew for taking the time to answer my questions. Check out his site Blackhawks Down Low for my answers to his questions that he asked where we talk post-Olympic breakdowns, rivalries and Canuck Day.