Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks Renew Ancient Rivalry with Detroit Red Wings


Sep 23, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) is defended by Detroit Red Wings center Tomas Nosek (82) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Call me crazy, but I miss these guys.  The age-old rivalry of the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings just has that classic feel to it.  Much like the Bears/Packers or Cubs/Cardinals, Hawks/Wings is a true rivalry, or at least it was.  Oh well, tonight will be fun, regardless.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Wings

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The slight advantage would have to go to the Hawks, in this one, but since tonight’s game is in Detroit, the advantage is a bit more slight.  Offensively, both teams have been a bit mediocre, with a slight edge going to Detroit, but we all know the Hawks offense is still in the budding stages.  Defensively, both teams are great, with the Hawks being the best in the league.  Special Teams-wise, this is a very close matchup.  The Hawks and Wings are closely mediocre on the Power Play, with a slight edge going to Detroit.  However, these teams are the best two Penalty Killing teams in the league with an edge going to the Hawks.  If we are to believe the numbers, tonight’s game should be a total wash on Special Teams, leaving the game to be decided on 5-on-5 play.  Both the Hawks and Wings are top-knotch in 5-on-5 play, with a slight edge going to the Hawks.  The Hawks are slightly better in Faceoffs and Corsi For Percentage, so once again, the Hawks should/need to hog the puck.  The hope is that they can do some damage with it.

The Red Wings, despite good team number and despite a respectable 7-3-5 record, which is good for 19 points, are currently sitting in 6th place in the highly-competitive Atlantic Division.

Detroit will be getting a huge boost, tonight, as Pavel Datsyuk is returning to the lineup, after a 2-game absence.  Datsyuk will likely be centering Detroit’s 2nd-line tonight, with Henrik Zetterberg centering the top-line.  Zetterberg is leading the team in points, followed by defenseman Niklas Kronwall.  Break-out star, last season, and likely part of the Wings’ core going forward, Gustav Nyquist has 8 goals, in 15 games.

In net for the Wings, will likely be Jimmy Howard.  Howard is having a fine season, so far, with a very good .923 Save Percentage, in 12 games played.

The Hawks are coming off a big, mettle-testing victory of the full-charged Tampa Bay Lightning, on Tuesday.  Currently the Hawks are sitting in 4th place, in the Central Division, with a 9-6-1 record and 19 points.

While the Hawks offense waits to find it’s soul, in a sort-of “Bizzarro-World” circumstance, Kris Versteeg is flying high, with 4 points in his last 4 games.  Jonathan Toews is leading the Hawks in points, and also has 5 in his last 5 games.  Look for Patrick Kane to get it going, tonight.  He has struggled to get points, so far, but coming off of a game-winning shootout goal, against Tampa, should be enough to spark him.  With  a point in each of his last 4 games, Brad Richards is quietly building a solid season, after a slow start.  Marcus Kruger has arguably been one of the most important players on the Hawks, so far.  While starting an abysmal 35% of his shifts in the offensive zone, the lowest amount on the team, he has a very good Corsi For Percentage(59%, 3rd best on the team when counting players around at least 100 minutes) and a very good CF% Relative, of 4.20, which is 4th best.  He has been the key to the Hawks elite defensive game.

In net for the Hawks will likely be Corey Crawford.  Crawford has been excellent, with a .931 Save Percentage in 10 games played.

This is probably the best time just to let the “rivalry” go and just enjoy a classic hockey matchup, like the Hawks and Wings.  It’s already a great matchup, on it’s own, so it doesn’t really need all the rivalry romanticizing.

Go Hawks!