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Canucks-Hawks rivalry heats up
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/5/2010 10:36 PM

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While the Red Wings remain the Blackhawks' chief rival, this thing they've got going with the Vancouver Canucks is gaining ground quickly.

Nothing like a nasty playoff series, a little hair pulling and some trash talking to get a rivalry started.

"It's definitely up there," Hawks winger Andrew Ladd said of the rivalry with the Canucks. "It seems to be a little more physical at times than against the Red Wings, but I think both of them are good rivalries."

Ladd's clashes with Ryan Kesler, including another one 37 seconds into Friday's game at the United Center, has helped create the rivalry with the Canucks.

It was Kesler who publicly called Ladd a coward after the two fought Jan. 23 at GM Place.

"The rivalry is because they beat us last year in the playoffs," Kesler said before Friday's game. "The rivalry is probably more of a rivalry to us then it us to them.

"Chicago's a tough team and it's a good measuring stick for us. They're probably, if not the best team, one of the best teams in the league."

Patrick Kane sees Detroit, Vancouver and Calgary as the Hawks' biggest rivals, and they just happen to be the three teams they met in the playoffs last spring.

"Any time you play a team in the playoffs, you develop a rivalry," Kane said.

Burish on hold: Adam Burish was targeting Sunday's game against Detroit to return from preseason knee surgery, but Hawks coach Joel Quenneville wasn't ready to commit to it just yet Friday.

"We'll see," Quenneville said. "We've got some extra players right now, but he's skating well. I like the way he has worked and the time he has put in and how competitive he's been through this whole process to put him in a position to come back."

Chemistry test: The plan all along was to play Marian Hossa and Dave Bolland together once they were both healthy to give the Hawks two big-time scoring lines.

Bolland and Hossa have clicked since the Olympic break, much the way Bolland found chemistry last season with Martin Havlat.

"Hopefully that's a good combination for us and gives us a nice 1-2 punch," Joel Quenneville said. "I like how (Bolland) has played since we ended the break here. With that line, we're looking for a contribution offensively and some responsibility defensively as well."

Tip-ins: It wasn't a good sign this week when the Hawks reassigned 2007 second-round draft pick Akim Aliu from Rockford to Toledo of the ECHL. The 20-year-old Aliu had 11 goals and 6 assists in 48 games at Rockford. ... The Hawks announced a partnership with the Blackhawks Standbys as the team's official fan club. The Standbys club was founded in 1944. Fans interested in joining can call (312) 455-7177 or e-mail standbys@chicagoblackhawks.com.