Blackhawks vs. Red Wings: The fewer the merrier?
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org February 24, 2013 10:28PM
Hawks winger Andrew Shaw (R) shoots the puck past Columbus goalie Steve Mason to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the second period of the Chicago Blackhawks-Columbus Blue Jackets NHL game Sunday February 24, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
The facts: 7:30, CSN, 720-AM.
Updated: February 24, 2013 10:51PM
The way coach Joel Quenneville sees it, Blackhawks-Red Wings games always will be a big deal. There just might not be as many in the near future.
The NHL is expected to unveil next season’s realignment plan soon, perhaps this week, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation offered a look at the proposed four “conferences.” One of the more notable changes to the 2011 proposal (shot down by the NHL Players Association) is that Detroit has been moved to the East, while the Hawks remain in the West.
The Hawks would be grouped with Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg. Detroit would be with Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
Quenneville shrugged it off.
“I don’t think it’ll go away if it does happen that they’re on the other side,” he said. “I think Blackhawks-Detroit will always be a special rivalry, a special game.”
Quenneville actually saw a benefit in losing the Wings, even as Detroit muddles through a rare season of mediocrity.
“They’ve been a team that’s always been tough to contend with every single year; it’s a powerhouse organization,” he said. “Look at their record and their standing over the course of time here. They’ve been dominating a lot of times.”
Detroit made no secret that it wanted to be lumped in with Eastern conference teams. But Quenneville said the Hawks — who will travel roughly 25,000 miles this season, compared with less than 12,000 for the New Jersey Devils — don’t mind being in the West.
“Our travel’s not too bad,” he said. “You have some stretches where you go out west, and this and that, but I don’t think we’ve got a complaint where we’re at.”
Dave Bolland missed Sunday night’s game against Columbus with an unspecified upper-body injury that held him out of the third period Friday against San Jose. Bolland didn’t skate over the weekend, but Quenneville didn’t seem too concerned.
“We’re fine, we’re fine,” he said. “He’s doing all right. He’s progressing.”
Marcus Kruger, as he did in the third period Friday, moved up from the fourth line to Bolland’s spot between Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.
Daniel Carcillo, who returned to the lineup Friday after missing 15 games with a leg injury, isn’t known as “Car Bomb” for nothing. But as the NHL continues to crack down on reckless play, players such as Carcillo have to adjust their game without giving up their niche as physical players. It’s a fine line to walk.
“Certain guys with reputations or history, their leashes are definitely shorter than other players’ . . . and I think he’s probably one of those players that knows he’s being watched,” Quenneville said. “He’s got to know when he’s over the line because it’s shorter than other people. We’ll continue to reinforce that, knowing that we still need him to be aggressive.”