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Blackhawks-Canucks Preview Apr 29

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) The Chicago Blackhawks' last game against the Vancouver Canucks featured a third-period line brawl that had everything from WWF-style body slams to hair pulling.

So it's safe to say they won't have to wait for the hatred to build when their second-round playoff series starts Thursday night in Vancouver.

"Obviously we have dislike for them," said Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who was bleeding, his undershirt torn, after a spirited scrap that included Ben Eager picking him up by the pants and slamming him to the ice. "Is it more than some teams? Maybe, but it will make for a good series."

The ugly ending to that last meeting a month ago started when big Blackhawks forward Dustin Byfuglien caught star goalie Roberto Luongo in the mask with his glove after being stopped on a partial breakaway.

By the time things settled, Vancouver defenseman Shane O'Brien had been taken hard to the ice by a referee trying to keep him away from Adam Burish, who was challenging top-line forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and Canucks agitator Alex Burrows was caught on tape twice grabbing a handful of Duncan Keith's long hair and pulling hard.

Head coaches Alain Vigneault and Joel Quenneville were screaming at each other from their benches as the officials handed out 80 minutes in penalties and misconducts - though strangely none to Burrows.

"That brawl will be in the back of everybody s minds, but it's a different game now," said Burish, who received three roughing minors and a 10-minute misconduct. "Obviously, the hair pulling was a little silly. That doesn't make me mad. It makes me laugh at how embarrassing it all was."

The melee came with the Canucks already up 3-0 in the March 29 game being billed as a likely playoff preview. Both teams talked after about sending messages for what then appeared to be a sure first-round meeting. The Canucks delivered theirs on the scoreboard with a 4-0 victory that moved them into a tie with Chicago in the race for home-ice advantage. The Blackhawks sent theirs with late physical play, saying it was proof that they wouldn't go away easily.

"Back then it looked like we were going to meet in the first round," Eager said. "We just wanted to show them it wasn't going to be an easy series and we were going to play hard."

Both sides were downplaying the brawl heading into their Western Conference semifinal, but everyone expected the physical play to continue.

"If somebody wants to get in my face I'm going to get right back in there face, Burish said. "I enjoy that confrontation, it doesn't matter who it is, whether it's their best player or the guy on the bottom of the depth chart."

The Canucks also pledged to continue the intense, hard-nosed style that marked their four-game sweep of St. Louis in the first round, but say they will have to do so without taking penalties. Vancouver killed off 23 of 24, including three lengthy 5-on-3s, while knocking off the Blues and leads the playoffs in penalty killing after finishing 16th in the regular season. Chicago has the second best playoff power play, with seven goals on 24 chances.

"We can't take 24 penalties in four games, that's going to kill us," Burrows said. "There will be physical play, but I wouldn't bet on a line brawl right off the bat. We have to take a punch to get a penalty and make sure we go on the power play instead of going on the PK all the time."

Physical play will be nothing new for the young Blackhawks, who saw plenty of intimidation attempts from the more experienced but injury-riddled Calgary in the first round. Despite some wobbles while losing Games 3 and 4 on the road, Chicago handled it well, securing its first playoff series victory in 13 years with a 4-1 victory in Game 6 on Tuesday night in Calgary.

"The last challenge we had against Calgary is as physical as you are going to face," coach Joel Queneville said.


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