After drifting through the majority of the regular season in second place, the Canucks have now turned their game around and battled to the top. The surge was spurned by Duncan Keith elbowing Daniel Sedin in the head and the ensuing concussion. The hit not only energized the team, but also gave them a reason to come first in the West: a shot at pure, unadulterated vengeance.
If the Canucks had come second in Conference, their odds of being able to see Chicago in the playoffs were close to none. Although Chicago will likely win their first round (against a very weak 3 seed), the odds of them beating either Detroit or Nashville are anything but guaranteed – that leaves the only possible meeting between the two teams in the Conference finals. But should the Canucks finish first and both teams win their opening round, they will be welcoming the Hawks to Rogers Arena in no time. After the recent history between these two teams, the Canucks can’t wait to get their hands on Duncan Keith and tear him limb from limb. Mark my words, this year’s series is going to be more gruesome than Sarah Jessica Parker without make-up.
As far as the Canucks actually winning the West goes and getting to see Chicago in round 2, their last 3 games of the season are against Anaheim, Edmonton and Calgary. All of these opponents are well within the grasp of the Canucks and none have any of that fire in their bellies from fighting for a playoff spot. St. Louis on the other hand face Detroit, Pheonix and Dallas, two teams desperate for points and all three eager to test their strength against a prospective playoff opponent.
These past 6 straight wins aren’t just a hot streak for the Canucks; They are a physical incarnation of the team being rabid for blood, a kind of hate they have always lacked going into the post-season. Coupled with their playoff experience and game 7 loss last season to Boston, the Canucks will be entering the playoffs this year as a very different team than we have ever seen before.