Blackhawks prepare for long standing rival Red Wings
Dec 30, 2011; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) makes a pass during the second period against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Game #6– Detroit Red Wings (2-2-0) at Chicago Blackhawks (5-0-0)
Game Time– 6:00 pm Central
TV-CSN Chicago or Fox Sports Detroit Radio – WGN 720 Chicago or AM1270 Detroit
The Blackhawks face for the first of four meetings this year their long standing Central Division adversary the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. Hockey does not get much better than this.
If that was not enough the Blackhawks are attempting to make history with going for their six win in a row.
Last year the Blackhawks took down the six game series four games to two over Detroit, but each game against the Red Wings always feels epic. These games usually have significant meaning in the standings and this one will be no exception.
Detroit is a different team for sure with the retirements of All Star defenseman and captain Nicklas Lidstrom and also retiring was their star forward Tomas Holmstrom. Obviously those two players are not replaceable but if there is ever a team that can withstand those departures it is Detroit. They arguably have the best center ice core with Zetterburg, Datsyuk, Helm and Abdelkader.
Where Detroit has struggled and maybe a little suspect is on the blue line. Their depth there is not what it has been in the past with the departure of Brad Stuart to San Jose. If there is a weakness on this team this is it especially with injuries mounting as well.
Detroit is coming off an impressive 5-3 win over the very talented Minnesota Wild which could signal Detroit is back to being well Detroit.
The Blackhawks are coming off of a grueling road win over Columbus but somehow they must find their legs to keep with the Red Wings. Much has been made that the Red Wings are getting older, which they are but let us not forget most of them played in Europe during the lockout and are in game shape. There is no solution for experience and craftiness which the Red Wings have always possessed.
If the Hawks are to be successful they must play a solid team defensive game. Playing the Red Wings is like looking in the mirror with all the skill and finesse they have at forward. Chicago has a puck magician in Patrick Kane but Detroit has Pavel Datsyuk. Every time he is on the ice like Kane, you are left with jaws agape wondering how what he did is physically possible.
Look out for the youngster Damien Brunner this kid is going to be a superstar and already has Datsyukian moves as Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky found out in a recent shoot out.
Watching Blackhawks /Red Wings contests is always a treat and this one should be no different. This is a long standing rivalry amoung original six teams that is one of the best in the NHL maybe even in all of sports because of the longevity of the rivalry.
Detroit is rested as they got into Chicago yesterday. You can bet they were watching and taking notes of the Blackhawks’ weaknesses in the Columbus game and they will be ready. They would love nothing more than to hand the Hawks their first defeat of the year and remind the Blackhawks Detroit is still a force to be dealt with.
The Blackhawks now have a huge target on them being undefeated and every team in the NHL will be looking to knock them off. The Hawks must be prepared physically to withstand the crunching.
Jimmy Howard will be in goal for Detroit since their backup Gustavsson is injured. Speaking of injury Detroit is hurting in this area with D men Ian White out with leg injury and Carlo Colaiacovo & Jonathan Ericsson out with shoulder injuries.
If there was ever an opportunity for the Hawks forwards to take advantage this is it. They need to get on Detroit early and maintain pressure in the offensive zone. Get people in front of Howard for some screens or deflections. If they can accomplish that the Blackhawks will make history.
Prediction – Blackhawks stay perfect and take this one in OT 4-3 as Marian Hossa does it again.
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