Chicago Blackhawks’ Eye On The Enemy: An Unforgotten Rival

By Matt Morrow
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 31: Dylan Larkin
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 31: Dylan Larkin /
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DETROIT, MI – JANUARY 07: Gustav Nyquist
DETROIT, MI – JANUARY 07: Gustav Nyquist /

Q&A with Dan Garza

Who has surprised you the most this season, both on the Red Wings, and in the NHL?

The most surprising player for the Red Wings, in my opinion, is Gustav Nyquist. He’s contending for the top spot on the team goal-scoring-wise and is having a complete turnaround from a disappointing campaign last season. I expected him to have a better season this time around, but he has exceeded expectations thus far.

In the NHL, I would have to say, Nathan MacKinnon. He has always been a threat for the Colorado Avalanche, but he is having the best season of his career to date. I really hope he takes the scoring title this season. 

Do the Red Wings have any young and exciting players on their roster whom Blackhawks fans should watch for in the upcoming game?

Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha are the Red Wings’ three young guns. Larkin has been the Wings’ out-and-out top producing forward, and Mantha has an eye for goal that gave him a solid start to the season. Athanasiou’s speed and quick hands make him one of the most exciting young players to watch in the NHL. 

Following up the last question, do the Red Wings have any exciting prospects down in Grand Rapids who you are waiting to see make the leap to the NHL? 

Two prospects I hope make the jump to the NHL in the near future are Vili Saarijarvi and Filip Hronek. The Red Wings are need of some young talented defensemen, and these two players could have a big impact in their future with the team. 

More from Analysis

I have to ask, does that Game 7 in 2013 still bring back bad memories? Do you still cringe every time you hear the name “Brent Seabrook”? Jokes aside, that was a tremendous series that I’ll never forget. 

Yes, of course. That series was an absolute disaster the last three games for the Wings. Blowing a 3-1 lead and not being able to win a Game 6 at home was tough to watch. 

A follow-up question: How much do you miss the Blackhawks-Red Wings rivalry? If they were to ever meet in a Stanley Cup Final, what do you imagine that would be like both hockey-wise and fan base-wise?

It’s definitely been strange over the last few years not seeing the Blackhawks on the season schedule multiple times. The rivalry has always produced great games and obviously has a lot of history. If the two teams ever meet in a Stanley Cup Final, I can only imagine that being one of the best series of all-time (at least hype-wise).

I remember the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup win over the Boston Bruins was a great series to watch between two Original Six teams. I can only imagine it being the same for these two teams as well. 

The Red Wings had a historic streak of playoff qualification. When do you see them qualifying for the playoffs again and being a serious contender in the East?

I see the team making the playoffs about two times in the next five years. Unfortunately, it appears this is not going to be an overnight transition to their old winning ways. The rebuilding will take time, and the salary cap situation has only hurt the options for bringing in quality players. Therefore, the pessimist inside me sees the team not making a return to perennial power status for perhaps as long as a decade. 

Next: Chicago Blackhawks: Is A Trade Brewing?

Lastly, what’s your prediction for the game Sunday?

3-2 Red Wings in the shootout.