They worked hard all season to get it.
Now, all of a sudden, it's gone.
The Vancouver Canucks have lost home-ice advantage in the playoffs after a single round. If they want to avoid a repeat of last spring's second-round series loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, they will have to play better at the United Center.
Vancouver lost two of three games in Chicago in the 2008-09 playoff series in which the Blackhawks prevailed in six games.
True, the Canucks also lost two of three at home, but road play takes on greater significance in the sequel.
Unlike a year ago, the first two games of this year's series will be played in Chicago -- and coach Alain Vigneault's crew has struggled on the road most of this season.
While they posted the NHL's second-best home record (30-8-3) behind Washington, the Canucks were far too mediocre away from General Motors Place, sporting a 19-20-2 mark that ranked a modest 17th in the league.
Meanwhile, Chicago's home record ranked third, with only one more loss than the Canucks. The Blackhawks also sported the fourth-best road mark (23-14-4).
The Canucks are riding a modest two-game road winning streak after overcoming a 2-1 series deficit to eliminate the Los Angeles Kings. But the United Center, where the famous Chicago Stadium horn still blares, will be a much more hostile environment.
In their last visit to Chicago in March, the Canucks fell 6-3 as goaltender Roberto Luongo allowed five goals on 14 shots in the early days of his post-Olympic meltdown. Vancouver and Chicago wound up splitting their quirky regular-season series 2-2 as they posted a win and a loss in each other's rink.
History shows that Stanley Cup winners, more often than not, have markedly stronger road records than also-rans.
However, the Canucks have yet to capitalize on management's efforts to preserve players' sleep and fitness through an adjusted travel and exercise program.
This series will ultimately prove whether those efforts were worth the time, money and expense.