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Blackhawks looking forward to facing rival Red Wings
The Blackhawks expect the next step into the Stanley Cup playoffs to stoke their intensity after a workmanlike effort against the Minnesota Wild in the opening round. That the opponent is the Detroit Red Wings does not hurt matters.
”There’s going to be quite a bit [of emotion],” captain Jonathan Toews said after the Hawks practiced Monday morning at Johnny’s Icehouse West. ”It’s always been a good rivalry. Especially during the regular season. We haven’t seen them in the playoffs for three years. [It's] something a lot of people seemed to talk about during the season, if it’s a potential matchup what would happen. And here we are.”
Game 1 will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the United Center. Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday, with the time to be determined. The rest of the series schedule will be announced after Monday night’s playoff games complete the opening round.
Though the Hawks were 4-0-0 against the Red Wings this season and have won seven consecutive games against their rivals, Toews and the Hawks know exactly what to expect from a Red Wings team that beat Anaheim 3-2 in Game 7 of their opening round series Sunday night.
”That same relaxed, patient, experience that they’ve shown in the playoffs — that makes them a tough team to beat,” Toews said. ”They’ve got some veteran guys who have won Stanley Cups and they understand what it takes to win during playoff time, and that’s the reason they came out on top.
”It’s a seven-game series, and no one knows that maybe as good as the Detroit Red Wings, and they showed it in that series against Anaheim. We’ve got to be ready to be as tough as we can. Some of their top guys and the guys that make their team click.”
Though the Hawks were unbeaten against the Red Wings in the regular season, three of the games went into overtime and two were won via shootout — including a 2-1 victory at Joe Louis Arena when Patrick Kane scored the tying goal on a power play with 2:02 to play to extend the Hawks’ season-opening unbeaten string to 22 games. So you can argue that they only beat the Red Wings twice in playoff conditions — 2-1 in overtime and 7-1 at Joe Louis Arena.
”It’s a new season. We’re starting even and clean,” coach Joel Quenneville said. ”I think we have to look at it one day at a time and one game at a time. You look at all the games this year, discounting the [7-1] game, every game was a close game and a tight game where anything could have happened.
”We were fortunate in the one game to tie it up late [on Kane's goal]. Probably the best game and the most exciting game we had all year was the one in Detroit … which was an amazing game. But we expect that kind of pace.”
The playoff matchup against the rival Red Wings will bring plenty of emotion from both team’s fans. And while the Hawks respect the firepower and history of the team that set the standard for excellence in the NHL, they still feel as the best team in hockey in the regular season that they control their own destiny.
”When we played Detroit and the teams in our division the intensity is right in place and the motivation’s in place,” Quenneville said, ”whether it’s the tradition, the animosity, from the fans all the way to the players. It’s a special history there. We want to make sure we take care of our own business. [Detroit is] a strong hockey team that plays with a purpose. We’re going to have to be at our best. But let’s welcome it and look forward to it.”