By now, the story has taken on a life of its own, at least among those who like to believe in fate.
It came from one of those handshake lines that are among the very best traditions in hockey when Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo crossed paths with Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks and mentioned how he was looking forward to meeting again in the playoffs.
The moment though, did not take place a year ago after the Blackhawks had eliminated Vancouver in the semifinals. Instead, Luongo's comment followed Team Canada's Olympic gold medal win over the upstart American team that has Kane as one of its star players.
And it wasn't about gloating either. No, it was about exacting revenge, something both Luongo and his teammates have been eyeing for a year now.
Since training camp, the Canucks have believed the road to the promised land would have to run through Chicago. So for teams that had faced each other only twice in nearly four decades of previous playoff appearances, the second meeting in as many years promises to be a bitter, hard-fought and no-love-lost battle.
But it also has the earmarks of a great series between two high-powered teams that are sparked by superstars.
Overall, there is little to choose from up front between these teams, but Chicago is more talented and physical along the blue line. The Canucks offset that advantage because Luongo is a better goalie than Antti Niemi.
Thing is both teams came into this postseason considered to be legitimate contenders, albeit with question marks, and despite efficient opening-round wins, neither did much to alleviate respective concerns about their games.
This series will be the chance for one of them to do so.
A closer look at what lies ahead.
How they got here: Won the Central Division by 10 points and finished second overall in the West before winning three in a row to beat the Nashville Predators 4-2 in the quarterfinals.
Intangibles: Having fate on their side, or so it would seem. Chicago has home-ice advantage, too. That means something since the Blackhawks were nearly invincible in their own building, which they proved in the opening round against Nashville despite losing once in the United Center. Thing is, Chicago nearly dropped another one in the pivotal Game 5, but found a way to steal the game by scoring a tying goal with only 13 seconds remaining -- shorthanded no less -- and then winning in overtime. Maybe the hockey gods really are looking out for this young and dynamic team that has gone all-in this season.
Strengths: The Blackhawks have speed, scoring that comes from several places throughout the lineup and a group of defensemen that can not only move the puck, but make life painful for opponents deep in the Chicago end. The Blackhawks give up fewer shots on goal than anyone, which never hurts, and their penalty-killing unit, led by John Madden, showed why it is one of the league's best by keeping the Predators from getting a power-play goal.
Player to watch: Question marks will continue to surround rookie goalie Antti Niemi, but he held his own for the most part in his first-round playoff debut and now has some experience to fall back on. Vancouver has a much better offense than Nashville though.
How they got here: The Canucks finished first in the Northwest Division and third overall in the West, then came from behind to send the Los Angeles Kings home after six games in their conference quarterfinals series.
Intangibles: Chicago's speed killed the Canucks last spring, but now Vancouver is just as fast and has better goaltending. The size factor still favors the Blackhawks, but Vancouver can produce a lot more offense than the Predators, who scored four goals in three first-round games. Expectations may be higher in Vancouver than last season, when they were already seen as a potential Cup contender, but the Canucks may be better prepared for it now coming off a tough series with the Kings. Los Angeles tested the Canucks, scared them and forced them to overcome the kind of adversity they didn't face last season against St. Louis when they swept the first round and had to sit for a momentum-killing nine days before meeting Chicago.
Key Assets: A big+time offense that has six 20-goal men and is constantly on the attack. Scoring champion Henrik Sedin leads the way along with brother Daniel, who picked up 85 points despite missing nearly a quarter of the schedule with injuries. The duo is firing on all cylinders now, and combined for 18 points in the opening round. Then there's Luongo, who has silenced some of his critics with a strong finish to the Kings series.
Player to watch: Alex Burrows is one of the league's better agitators, but the 35 goals he scored this season proved he has a skill set as well. Burrows struggled against the Kings though.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks in 7.