The last time the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings met, the Blackhawks were fighting for their playoff lives.
Yeah, its been that long.
Nine months after the Blackhawks lost their regular-season finale against the Red Wings, theyll finally finally resume the rivalry when they host Detroit Friday night at the United Center. After all that time, the Blackhawks and Wings will now play each other three times over the next 16 days.
Let the fun begin.
We have them a lot coming up, coach Joel Quenneville said. It seems like division opponents come in bunches. Well see them a lot for sure. There are a lot of things makes them a top team in our conference.
Despite how long its taken for the two to meet this season, the timing is still great. The Blackhawks sit atop the Western Conference standings (and the Central Division) with 50 points. Detroit, just three points behind, is fourth in the conference and second in the division.
The two teams similarities usually lead to good matchups.
Theyre a team thats made up, basically, the same way we are: four lines that can play hockey and push the pace. That makes for some quick, high-paced games and those are fun to play, Viktor Stalberg said. There are going to be a lot of opportunities both ways. Hopefully Corey (Crawford) can come up big again and hopefully we can put some pucks behind (Detroit goalie) Jimmy Howard tomorrow.
Its debatable that the Vancouver Canucks have become the Blackhawks biggest rival. But the one with the Red Wings is still up there and still has its panache. Its just in this one, theres more admiration than animosity.
I dont want to say we look up to them but we definitely respect them and we always look forward to playing them, Patrick Sharp said. Fans will be into (tomorrows game). Its easy to get up for those. The Canucks ones, you dont know whether to hit someone, slash someone or keep your own head up. Those are scary sometimes.
The longtime rivalry is back tomorrow. No, theres not a lot of nasty venom between the two anymore. But proximity, history and the constant battle for the Central title still fuel this fire plenty.
Its kind of fitting that we play them at this time of year, Patrick Kane said. Were both at the top of the standings in the West and have something to play for. Its kind of cool.