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Even with his team down 3-0 in the series and facing all-but certain elimination, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews still had some tough talk for the Vancouver Canucks last night.

As in, he's not certain they're as good as their heady 117-point season suggests.

"Everybody wants to look at the stats all year and talk about what they do well and how good of a team they are," Toews said. "And that's what's frustrating because we're not exposing them for what they really are. And I think a lot of people outside of this locker room are giving them too much credit and maybe we are as well.

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"We know that we can be a better team than them. We just haven't shown it yet ... That's what's frustrating, that we can't show what we're capable of as a team right now."

The quotes are getting a lot of attention today in Vancouver, where fans are excitedly filling in their brackets and trying to pinpoint who the hometown juggernaut will play in Round 2.

Unfortunately for Toews, however, what the Canucks "really are" is one of the top four or five teams in the NHL, just as the Blackhawks were a year ago.

From Chicago's perspective, though, it has to be incredibly frustrating to have beaten Vancouver two years in a row only to fall so convincingly to them this time around, albeit with a couple key forwards injured and several more having been dealt away due to cap issues.

More than any drop due to personnel issues, however, this Blackhawks team just looks out of gas to me.

It's been said many times before, but with a season that runs from training camp starting in mid-September until mid-June, with just under three months off in between, perhaps it's simply too much to ask of a team to be able to repeat as Stanley Cup champs anymore?

Getting motivated enough to repeat by going through four rounds - especially when you now know how long that road usually is - must be extremely difficult, for any defending champ.

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And the Canucks, with so many players who haven't won, simply seem far hungrier - and why wouldn't they be?

Not that that's what Toews can say in a situation like this, with his team playing poorly and facing a Round 1 sweep tomorrow night in Chicago.

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