By Ashley Dunkak
JOE LOUIS ARENA (CBS DETROIT) – The last time the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks met – May 29, 2013 – Chicago eliminated Detroit from the playoffs and went on to claim the Stanley Cup.
Besides the seven games Detroit and Chicago played in the postseason in 2013, they met four times in the regular season, and three of those games ended in overtime or shootouts.
With the Red Wings moved to the Eastern Conference, Chicago and Detroit see each other just twice in the regular season and will not meet in the playoffs unless both advance all the way to the finals.
Accordingly, Wednesday’s game is an opportunity the Red Wings want to seize.
“I think we’re all pretty excited to be playing Chicago,” defenseman Brendan Smith said Wednesday morning. “Us as a group, we want a little redemption as well because they took us in Game 7. I think this will be a hard two teams to end a rivalry like this because it has been so great and the fans have been behind both teams so much. It’s definitely one we look forward to, and I’m pretty sure they do too. It’d be a tough one to sweep under the mat because how great every organization is and how each team has done so well in the past few seasons.”
This season, though, Detroit might not be able to put up much of a fight. The Red Wings, who have been battered with injuries, are 21-18-10 with 52 points in the standings. The Blackhawks are 32-8-11 with 75 points.
“I don’t think we’re holding up our end of the bargain,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “Rivalry is when two teams really get after one another. I thought we did last year in the playoffs. We haven’t been a good enough team this year to consider this a rivalry-type game, and yet the past is what the past is. We’ve had a good run with them.
“We used to be where they are,” Babcock reflected, “and now they’re where we were.”
Nevertheless, the game is still one players anticipate. Smith did not think the change in conference would diminish the intensity of the Detroit-Chicago matchups, and Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews agreed.
“I don’t think it’s going anywhere,” Toews said. “I feel like maybe it’s just more concentrated focused on one game now, I guess two games with the three, four, five or six otherwise.
“You look at the lineup, it’s almost completely different from what we saw in the playoffs because of mostly injuries,” Toews continued. “I think we can still expect them to come out and work their tails off and give us a heck of a game, so it’s one that we’ve got to be ready for and we’ve got to be excited about.”