Canucks' Bieksa: Hawks still easy to hate despite changes

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — At first glance, all of the Blackhawks’ notable trash-talkers are gone. But Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa doesn’t necessarily think that’s the case.

“Their fourth-line guys I’m sure they’ll be yapping a little bit,” Bieksa said. “Some of their better players still yap pretty good. They’re sneaky with it. That’s kind of an area of the game we don’t really get too involved with. We haven’t all season long.”

Bieksa is referring to the Canucks’ ability — notably Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, two former pest themselves — to ignore all the “yapping” and just play hockey.

That focus and ability to ignore things has been crucial for the Canucks. Their goal is do the same against the Hawks, who have specialized in irritating the Canucks, in the first round. It helps Vancouver that Dave Bolland (concussion) is expected to miss Game 1 Wednesday at Rogers Arena.

“We haven’t done that all year, and we’re going to play like the regular season,” said Kesler, who cut his penalty minutes down from 104 last season to 66 this year. “We’ve been disciplined.”

The Hawks have made headlines for some of their trash-talking antics this season, mainly for “chirping” players coming off the ice with injuries. But for the most part, the abrasiveness that was a big part of the Hawks’ makeup last season (Adam Burish, Ben Eager, Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien etc.) isn’t this year.

“Those guys are gone,” Bieksa said. “But I’m sure they’ll have guys that can fill that void.”

But for all the changes both locker rooms went through, the Hawks are still easy to hate, Bieksa said.

“When you put that [Hawks] jersey on instantly [hate] comes into this dressing room,” he said. “It’s a team we want to beat badly.”

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