CHICAGO -- New friends become old enemies when the Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks hit the ice for their series finale Friday night.
Forwards Patrick Kane and Ryan Kesler played on the same line together for Team USA while Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook won gold with Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. Now, they’re back with their respective teams and it's business as usual.
“I’m sure it will be the same way playing against him [Kesler] that it was before,” Kane said after Friday’s morning practice. “Even me and Tazer [Jonathan Toews] were chirping each other on the ice when we played Canada so it’s just the way it is. We’re enemies now, we’re on different teams. I probably won’t have to see him again for four years so I don’t expect too much to change.
“I always knew he was a great player, I just didn’t know he was that great,” Kesler responded. “My job is probably going to be to shut him down tonight. What happens on the ice, stays on the ice. I still consider him a good buddy off the ice.”
One player Kesler will probably never call a "buddy" is Hawks winger Andrew Ladd. The two have had a growing dislike for each other since Ladd broke Kesler’s nose in last year’s playoff matchup. Kesler responded by challenging Ladd to a fight in Vancouver last time these teams played in January, and then call him out after the game.
“I said some things afterwards that I hit myself in the butt for saying,” Kesler said. “My words got twisted a little bit but I said he was a 'coward'. He’s a hard nosed player and he’s probably going to hit me a couple times tonight. I’ll be ready for it. I got all my anger out. He fought me...and what is done is done.”
For his part, Ladd had very little to say, on Friday, about the personal rivalry between he and Kesler.
“I’m more worried about the way we’re playing and what we need to do get back on track,” Ladd said. “We’ll see how it plays out but I’m not really focused on that.”
Personal animosity aside, the two teams admit there is a growing rivalry between them that started in last year’s playoffs. Vancouver has won two of three this season and the Hawks want it to stop there.
“They’re a physical team but most of all they like to get under your skin,” Toews said. “They have their little antics. Every team has their own way of doing that, and give them credit for that, and they’ve grown into a team you like beating and like playing against.”
Especially if your name is Ladd or Kesler.
Joel Quenneville wouldn’t commit to Adam Burish returning for Sunday’s game until seeing him in practice on Saturday.
Cristobal Huet will start in goal against Vancouver.
When asked if he learned anything about Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook while playing with them in Vancouver, Robert Luongo said, “Yes, they’re great guys.”
The Canucks are in the middle of a record 14 game road trip due to the Olympics. They are 6-4 so far including 2-0 since the break ended. They’ve score 10 goals in those two contests.