Jonathan Toews will always tell you the way it is.
Like how some NHL regular-season games mean more than others -- such as the Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks -- even during the first week of November.
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"You can't say that every game is the same because it's not," the Hawks' captain said. "It adds a little motivation to just a regular-season game. Sometimes you keep telling yourself it's not the case, but there are some games through an 82-game schedule, I wouldn't say feel meaningless, but just feel like it's just another game. This would be the exact opposite of that."
A lot of the names have changed in the Hawks-Canucks rivalry the last three years, but the key ones remain.
"You still have the Toews, the Kanes, Sharps, Hossa, Keith, Seabrook -- those are the guys that win you the games," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "The other guys that come in and out are interchangeable. They bring a little energy and put a little fuel on the fire, but if we're going to win we have to beat those guys."
The Hawks and Canucks have played some great hockey over the last three-plus seasons, and nothing figures to diminish what has become one of the NHL's great rivalries.
"Even during the regular season the pace is always elevated between these two teams and I don't think that's changing yet," Toews said. "It seems like it builds every time we play Vancouver, something new comes up that kind of adds to the mix.
"It's always two really good, really competitive teams going head to head. It's more than just hockey out there against guys that get into it pretty good. Multiple things add to it as to why it's so competitive and so personal out there. Little things happen, whether it's hits or plays, things that you remember from previous series or previous games during the regular season that you want to get even with them for every time they take it to you."