The Chicago Blackhawks are a bit miffed right now.
Three times they played the Anaheim Ducks, three times they failed to beat them. They got a point, one measly point against their closest competitor in the Western Conference standings. They want to rebound, want to bounce back quickly.
Well, trips to Detroit usually lead to that.
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When the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings square off at Joe Louis Arena Sunday morning, they might have a bit of a smile on their faces. After all, they’ve lost just one regulation game in Detroit dating back to the 2009-10 season.
There’s no rhyme or reason for the success rate there. The Blackhawks have been above the Red Wings in the standings during some of those seasons, desperately chasing them in others. Yet whenever they go to Detroit, they get points. The last time they lost in regulation there was Oct. 8, 2009.
But just writing in another Blackhawks victory in Detroit would be presumptuous. These are still the Red Wings, who may not be having their best season but are still formidable. And they’ve played better as of late, winning five of their last seven games. Even though their last game is a 2-0 loss against the San Jose Sharks, the Wings are liking the direction they’re going in right now.
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“I think we’ve come together pretty good,” Henrik Zetterberg told the Detroit Free Press on Friday. “We’re doing the little things right. I think we’re sticking to the plan and I think special teams have been good on this trip. We just have to keep building on that.”
Goaltender Jimmy Howard told the Free Press that calm has been the Wings’ calling card lately.
“I think we’re not getting rattled out there," he said. "If stuff isn't going our way, we stay the course. That's a good thing, because once playoffs come, it's not going to go your way every single night and you've got to find that even keel out there.”
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The Blackhawks haven’t been as sharp, or even-keeled, lately. After rattling off 24 games without a regulation loss, they were bound to have some bumps in the road. And they have. The Ducks have been the biggest thorn in their side, beating them in the waning minutes in all three of their matchups. Defenseman Niklas Hjalamrsson said the Blackhawks have to get back to basics.
“We’re just going to try to find our game again, the way we did during the streak. The way we played team defense there, we haven’t been doing that the last couple games,” he said. “(It’s about) playing simple, not trying to do too much. Things have been going pretty easy so far with our streak and all of that. You need some ups and downs in a season. You have to learn from it as a team. That’s what we have to do.”
The Blackhawks have found their game plenty in Detroit the past few seasons. Perhaps they do it again. Perhaps the Wings continue their on-the-rise trend. Either way, it will be classic Blackhawks-Red Wings.