It wasn’t that long ago that a Chicago Blackhawks-Detroit Red Wings had bigger implications than most games. It was a great, classic, divisional rivalry that entertained us for many a season.
Well, those days are gone, or at least they’re fewer. With Detroit in the East and the teams just facing each other twice a season, the matchup doesn’t have quite the same feeling. Still, the two enter tonight’s game with plenty in common. Each team is playing .500 hockey lately and each is trying to improve their standing in their respective conferences.
Will that old rivalry feeling be rekindled? With each team take its recent on-ice frustration out on the other? Will it ever warm up, ever, in this city? While we ponder these and other questions, let’s look at the Five Things to watch for in tonight’s Red Wings-Blackhawks game.
1. Again, how about that fast start. We’ve been preaching this one quite a bit. The Blackhawks got off to a decent one in the first 10 minutes against Nashville on Friday. The next 10 minutes, however, prompted coach Joel Quenneville to say it was “as bad as we’ve played for any stretch all year.” Too often the Blackhawks’ urgency hasn’t shown until the last 10-15 minutes of their games. That has to change.
2. Welcome back, Mr. Hossa. Marian Hossa’s return should be a boost, both for him and for the Blackhawks. We all know what Hossa brings, from being a constant scoring threat to his defensive abilities. Perhaps his return can prove some of the spark the Blackhawks need right now.
3. Bring back the battle. The Blackhawks were fully ensconced in battle drills on Saturday’s practice, mainly because they’ve lacked that in their last two games. Quenneville didn’t mince words on the subject. “If you’re looking for a perimeter, non-confrontational kind of game, the other team will accommodate that,” he said. “You’ll be on the outside the whole game.” The Blackhawks have to get inside more and challenge more tonight.
4. Bryan Bickell “trending.” That’s what Quenneville said about Bickell’s game recently, and it’s that time of the year when it usually does. Bickell’s got to be playing at his best as the Blackhawks head to the playoffs, and he seems headed in that direction. The Blackhawks need him to keep going on that trend tonight.
5. Our pick to click tonight? We’re going to go with Brent Seabrook. Perhaps we’re just caught up in what he did against the Red Wings in the postseason but we see him having a good outing against them again this evening.