The bad blood is at a minimum. There are no division games to stoke the regular-season fires between them. They’re separated by two time zones.
Still, there’s something brewing between the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings. Perhaps it’s just from the success each has had in recent season. Maybe it’s because they’re squaring off for the second consecutive Western Conference Final. Whatever it is, there seems to be a budding rivalry, and it’s made for great hockey.
“I think they’re a team that’s in a lot of ways comparable to ours,” Jonathan Toews said. “They've got great forwards, great defensemen, strong goaltending and they play a physical, skilled game and we try to do the same. There's a lot of comparisons there and I guess, like I said, we always try to measure up to teams like that and feel pretty good about ourselves if we come out on top."
Playoffs have built many rivalries in the past. That’s certainly true for the Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks, whose postseason series were full of bad blood and drama. Patrick Sharp said there is some bad blood between the Kings and Blackhawks but compared to Hawks-Canucks, it’s infinitesimal.
These two seem to have more of a Hawks-Red Wings feel to them: dislike, for sure, but it’s more about strong hockey and mutual respect.
“Both teams, they play hard. Both teams have skill. But both teams, you know, have some physicality within their lineup that you're comfortable with,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “The nastiness, if we play hard during the whistle, that's what we look for. That's what we talk about and stress. I think we don't want to be deterred from where we have to go to be successful.”
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The Blackhawks and Kings are the latest to form a rivalry based on the postseason. It’s been a fairly respectful one thus far but there’s always the chance venom rises as the series continues. The hockey between them should keep getting better, too.
“We've always said even against teams like St. Louis, Minnesota, physical teams, that we don't want to do anything after the whistle. We want to stay away from that, but between whistles and during the play, I think there's going to be a lot of physical play, a lot of stuff going on,” Toews said. “We know that they’ll be rested (for Game 2) and be better prepared to play. We’ll expect a better game out of them and we have to expect the same out of ourselves.”