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It’s easy to revive Blackhawks-Red Wings rivalry

Detroit Red Wings v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Seven

Detroit Red Wings v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Seven

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WEDNESDAY

Blackhawks
at Red Wings

The facts: 7 p.m., NBCSN, 720-AM.

Updated: January 21, 2014 9:19PM



Near the end of their 87-year run as regular adversaries, the Blackhawks and Red Wings played games that became easy to take for granted not for their quality but their quantity. The teams squared off so often that, with each great game, another surely would come soon.

Until this season. With the Red Wings’ move to the Eastern Conference, the teams will meet just twice: in Detroit on Wednesday and in Chicago on March 16.

Are 806 all-time meetings enough to sustain the rivalry?

“It’s a different setup, so we don’t see each other as much, but I think any fan that has been watching for the past years [knows] it’s pretty heated games and I think people still enjoy them,” Hawks winger Brandon Saad said.

“It’s exciting. The fans love it and they get into it, and especially playing in Detroit, they have a lot of passionate fans in there, and I think we’ll have fun going in there and playing against them.”

The teams haven’t met since May 29, when the Hawks capped their rally from a 3-1 series deficit with a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals. Players believe the series should be enough to propel the rivalry through at least this season, if not further.

Though the Red Wings entered Tuesday ninth in the Eastern Conference, the Hawks are prepared for a team they believe will have that playoff defeat in mind.

“I don’t think [the rivalry is] that far gone,” Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford said. “Last year, the playoff series that we had was pretty good, so I think there will still be some feelings from that.”

Winning the Stanley Cup often overshadows the memory of what could have been an early exit for the Hawks. Winning three consecutive elimination games to steal a series isn’t a common accomplishment for any team, even one as talented as the Hawks.

“I know it’s tough to do and it’s a memory that I will always have,” Hawks winger Bryan Bickell said. “It enhances the rivalry a little more. Now we don’t play each other as much, but we’re looking forward to it.”

Considering both fan bases travel well, the carnival atmosphere at Joe Louis Arena and the United Center is certain to remain.

In fact, it’s just as reasonable to assert that because the series now is limited to one home game for each team, there could be more focus when the two teams meet.

“I’m sure in the building it will be an exciting place knowing that we’re not there as much,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

“Knowing that we only play them once a year in each building, I think it can still bring back the intensity of the rivalry that’s been in place a long time.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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