DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings are struggling, something they haven’t done much of in recent years. The biggest reason for the struggles is injuries, as the Wings have a long list of them.
But when the Chicago Blackhawks come to town, it’s like a renewed vigor for Detroit, and vice-versa. For as much as the Blackhawks still see this as a rivalry, so do the Wings.
“We’re all pretty excited to play Chicago. Us as a group, we want a little redemption as well,” defenseman Brendan Smith said. “It will be hard for these two teams to end the rivalry because it’s been so great. It’s definitely one we look forward to, and I’m pretty sure they do, too. It’s tough to sweep under the mat because of how great both organizations are and how well each team has done the past few seasons.”
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The Blackhawks are continuing down that successful path, currently picking up where they left off from their second Cup in the past four seasons. Detroit, meanwhile, has been looking for consistency. Blame much of that on injuries; the Wings get defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (ribs) back tonight, but they’ll still be without Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Daniel Alfredsson (back), Johan Franzen (concussion).
Detroit coach Mike Babcock talked about the rivalry but considers it a one-sided one right now.
“A rivalry is when two teams really get after one another. I thought we did last year in the playoffs, but we haven’t been a good enough team this year to consider this a rivalry,” he said. “We used to be where they are and now they’re where we were.”
Still, when these two play, it’s usually must-see hockey TV. It probably will be the same tonight.
“The way the (playoff) series went, the history and number of years, the way the fans are among both teams are passionate and both represent in other team’s building,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’re getting away from that now, one game in each building a year, but I still think it’ll be instantly recaptured. Whether it’s the animosity or rivalry, it will kick in immediately.”
A live stream of tonight's game can be found through this link.