Apr 27, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Blues goalieRyan Miller
(39) makes a save in front of Chicago Blackhawks centerJonathan Toews
(19) during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Chicago won 5-1 to take the series 4 games to 1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Truth be told, this rivalry compares to that of the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, even the Hawks and Red Wings – which for some has no comparison. To list the accomplishments for both these organizations specifically would be near endless – better I just sum it up. The two most compelling facts one might find even blew my mind slightly. Both the Chicago Blackhawks and Saint Louis Blues qualified for the post season for seventeen years straight from 1980 – 1997. Re-solidifying the caliber of these organizations, every divisional final for eleven years from 1982 – 1993 involved either the Hawks or the Blues. Including the 1993 Norris Semi-final in which the Blackhawks lost to the Blues on a late goal – a goal that Eddie Belfour was more than convinced he was interfered on. But the goal stood and the Blackhawks lost, leading our exuberant former goaltender to rearrange the visitors locker room to the tune of a few thousand dollars. Reports mention that amongst the replaced items were a coffee pot, television set and a hot tub. I’m sure Eddie was still just a little upset over the game and had some trouble expressing himself with his words – that can happen for athletes sometimes. I speak from experience.
Needless to say, there’s no love lost between these two highly talented and highly poised clubs. The first time these two met in October the game began with two penalties assessed to the Blues and the Hawks cashed in on the advantage and before even a minute was up, the Hawks had seemed to be putting their foot on the Blues throats. But with scoring threats like TJ Oshie, Jaden Schwartz, newly acquired Paul Stastny, David Backes and of course, up and coming Vkladamir Tarasenko in their forward corps – that lead didn’t last long. The blues returned the favor 12:15 into the first and added two more early in the second. The Hawks would score early in the third but it would be as close as they’d come as the play of Defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo continued to not disappoint for the Blues. It was a lovely game to watch, upsetting outcome, but enjoyable – tonight will be no different.
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As we know the Hawks always love a good spotlight to help persuade them to truly “show up” and with the entire national spotlight bright after their 5-1 Circus Trip, their three game win streak and Darryl Sutters, “[Hawks] are the best team in hockey right now” comment… this is as big a moment as any to continue sending messages throughout the NHL. Tonight’s playoff-esque regular season match-up will put these clubs on NBC for their weekly “Wednesday Night Rivalry” where I’d imagine the call will go to the great Doc Emmerich, Pierre McGuire (inside the glass) and our beloved Eddie Olczyk helping educate our young hockey players. It might as well be the playoffs. Continuing on the Blackhawks haven’t been on home ice in seventeen days and it’ll also be the first time the Blues have been in Chicago since they were bounced from the Western Conference Quarterfinal in Game 6 last year – expect the 122 decibel record for noise during the anthem to be shattered tonight.
The Blues are currently tied for 1st in the Central Division with the Nashville Predators at thirty four points – three points ahead of the Hawks. The Hawks though got some help from the Carolina Hurricanes last night (beating Nashville 2-1) and now have the chance to make a six point swing should they manage to put the Blues away in Regulation. Should they do that, they’ll move to only one point behind both the Blues and Predators in the same amount of games.
I’m not one to predict a hockey game anymore, especially between the Blues and Hawks in this decade. But I am willing to predict a fantastic display of hockey like it used to be played – tough, up tempo and skilled. The nation will be watching and when that’s the case – both these teams seem unable to disappoint.
HAWKS V.S. BLUES 7pm CST on NBCSN
Follow me on Twitter @ZRaderstorf and the Hawks @Blackhawk_Up