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One of the best games of the year was played between the Blackhawks and Red Wings. Isn’t it a shame that these teams will no longer meet six times a year if the proposed realignment goes through.
A week and a half ago, the NHL sent out a memo that detailed the proposed realignment. If the proposed realignment goes through the Red Wings will move to the Eastern Conference. That would mean that the Hawks and Red Wings would only play twice a season.
Now of course the two could meet for the Stanley Cup with the realignment. But the odds are highly unlikely. It is understandable to move Detroit to the East so that more of their games are on at primetime in their time zone.
Unfortunately, the Hawks-Red Wings rivalry will not be the same with the teams meeting two times a year. The two teams have played 723 times in the regular season which is the most between two teams in the NHL.
As they showed on Sunday, there is no better rivalry in the NHL. It doesn’t have the nastiness that you may see in Bruins-Canadians game or Penguins-Flyers but it doesn’t need to. Both teams are highly skilled and show the beauty of hockey when they play.
The puck possession of Chicago and Detroit was on full display Sunday. It’s a shame we won’t see Pavel Datsyuk vs. Jonathan Toews more than twice a year.
The back and forth pace was great and led to a fluid game. Perhaps the two players who flashed the most skill were Patrick Kane and Henrik Zetterberg. They both created several high quality chances. Kane converted and scored the game tying and game winning goals on Sunday.
Another common occurrence in a Blackhawks-Red Wings game is a goalie duel between Jimmy Howard and Corey Crawford. The two young goaltenders delivered again on Sunday. Each goalie had identical numbers as they saved 32 of 33 shots.
In fact, it has been common that the two teams play a one goal game. The past nine games between the two teams have been one goal affairs. Going back to the start of the 2010-2011 season, 11 of 14 games between Chicago and Detroit have been one goal affairs. 6 of those 11 one goal games have gone to overtime or a shootout.
The rivalry has everything. Crawford and Howard are always asked to make spectacular, highlight reel saves against the rush several times a game. They both have to make around 30 saves in each game and the most goals that either team has scored in the last three seasons against each other is 4 in a game.
Blackhawks versus Red Wings has never been about goonery or jumping unsuspecting opposing players. Instead it has featured high end skill that brings in huge ratings and showcases what the game is about.
Almost every rivalry has bad moments in every game. But that is not the case for the Blackhawks and Red Wings as these they do not have on ice brawls where coaches are on the boards yelling at each other. While realignment is good for the league and will decrease travel; it will rob the league of its best rivalry.
Meanwhile the Blackhawks and Red Wings played another instant classic on national television on Sunday. It was a special game as it always is. But with realignment some of these rivalries are at risk of being diminished.
Unfortunately that day looks to be coming soon. Everyone could dwell that this is the end of the rivalry and that it will never be the same after Detroit moves east. But for now let’s ignore that fact and appreciate that we saw another special game played between two great franchises.