Thursday, April 29, 2010

Round Two 2: Round Harder

Jonathan Toews looking a lot like his infamous mural

For the second consecutive year, the Vancouver Canucks are playing the Chicago Blackhawks in Round Two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It's time for a sequel!

The typical sequel ramps up everything that was successful in the first movie: bigger action, bigger villains, bigger explosions, and bigger box office returns. How does the second-round sequel of Canucks vs. Blackhawks stack up?

Bigger action?

The Canucks enter the series with the highest goals per game of the playoffs and boast the Art Ross trophy winner (and Hart nominee) in Henrik Sedin and the playoff's leading goalscorer in Mikael Samuelsson. With the ability to score throughout their top three lines highlighted by Steve Bernier's 4 first-round goals, the Canucks have one of the most potent offences in the NHL.

The Blackhawks feature the high-flying Patrick Kane, hard-working Jonathan Toews, and the no-Stanley-Cup-winning Marian Hossa. Top that off with a mobile defense corps and free-wheeling style and there will certainly be plenty of action from Chicago.

The Canucks will look to protect their home turf better than Wolverine did in X-Men 2 and hopefully steal a couple games in Chicago, if only to avoid having to hear "Chelsea Dagger" too often.

Bigger villains?

Dustin "Feather-Rufflin'" Byfuglien (I don't expect that nickname to stick) is the main villain in the minds of Canucks fans and possibly in the mind of Roberto Luongo. With the announcement that Byfuglien will be moving back up to forward for the Hawks-Nucks series, the media is already abuzz with Byfuglien vs. Luongo talk.

From the Chicago side, there is no bigger villain than Alex "André" Burrows (yet another nickname that won't stick). Rest assured, they still haven't forgotten the infamous hair-pulling incident.

On the plus-side, it is extremely unlikely that any familial revelations will come out from either of these villains. And cries of "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" will be kept to a minimum unless Stephane Auger is called upon to ref.

Bigger explosions?

How about the bad blood brewing between Andrew Ladd and Ryan Kesler?It's bound to explode at some point in this series and the potential for a brouhaha is high. If any game in this series turns into a blowout, look out.

Look lots more of these throughout the series, though hopefully without the Luongo face-punching, fish-hooking, and hair-pulling. And, hopefully, no nuclear explosions akin to Terminator 2.

Bigger box-office returns?

There's a reason this series is starting on a Saturday: the CBC knows that this series will be their moneymaker, as the Canucks are one of two Canadian teams left in the playoffs, so they threw their weight around to get a Saturday night game for HNIC.

Combine that with the marketing potential of 5 Olympic medal winners, the storylines mentioned above, and the star status of players like the Sedins, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Roberto Luongo, and you have a (near) Summer Blockbuster.

Will it make over 1 billion dollars like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest?



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