"It should be a pretty interesting matchup," Canucks winger Alex Burrows told reporters. "There are a lot of guys on their team that we know and we have rivalries against. We'd like to play them again and beat them."
Vancouver's wish was granted when the Blackhawks ousted the Nashville Predators from the post-season Monday night.
The Canucks will get a chance to redeem themselves after squandering a 2-1 series lead over Chicago in 2009.
Just when it looked like the Canucks could book their ticket in advance to the Western Conference finals, the Blackhawks rallied in Game 4 to win 2-1 in overtime, proceeded to win 4-2 in Game 6 and then ousted the Vancouver squad on the back of Patrick Kane's hat-trick in Game 6 as they romped to a 7-5 victory.
Now, there are plenty of storylines brewing as the clubs enjoy a brief rest before opening the series Friday in the Windy City.
The first one, as usual, is goaltending. While the Canucks' Roberto Luongo seeks to make up for his post-season meltdown in 2009, Chicago will try to win with a new goaltender following Nikolai Khabibulin's departure to Edmonton.
Rookie Blackhawks netminder Antti Niemi began the season as the backup, but is now a key to the Blackhawks' Cup hopes as Cristobal Huet remains as inconsistent as ever. While Niemi is a relatively unknown commodity, the Vantaa, Finland native posted two shutouts in his first six games this season – including a 1-0 decision over Vancouver at General Motors Place in November.
Luongo, who confirmed he was back to form when he made a glove save for the ages in Sunday's Game 6 clincher over the L.A. Kings, should have, ahem, the upper hand.
Then you have Luongo vs. Kane, who was unstoppable in last spring's decision game, but had to grin and bear it as the Vancouver captain backstopped Team Canada to a gold-medal victory over his American squad in the Olympics.
Luongo also gets a chance to prove himself against Dustin Byfuglien, who was literally a constant thorn in the goaltender's side as he parked himself in front of the net and played an unexpectedly strong offensive role as the Blackhawks advanced to the conference finals.
Ryan Kesler and Andrew Ladd, whom the Canucks' centre has labelled "a dirty player", also get to renew pleasantries, and Vancouver's older, injury-riddled defence corps will try to put on a better show than it did a year ago against a young, talented Chicago blue-line crew that features Norris Trophy finalist Duncan Keith.
According to Burrows, the Canucks have learned many lessons from that series while becoming stronger mentally.
"Going into Chicago last year, I think we maybe got over-excited some games and it cost us the series," he said.
"Did we learn from it? Hopefully," said Bieksa.
Time will tell, but history, both recent and more distant, is not on Vancouver's side. The clubs have faced each other three times in post-season series and Chicago has won twice. In 1995, the Blackhawks swept the Canucks in the second round by winning three of the four games in overtime.
The Canucks will be looking to summon some of the magic that the 1982 edition of the team displayed as it eliminated Chicago in five games in the conference finals. That was the same series that saw then-interim coach Roger Neilson, frustrated over a referee's call, drape a towel over a stick as a sign of surrender, thus spawning the white-towel waving tradition we see today.
It's just one of the many angles that should make for another memorable series.