Blackhawks Confidential

The time has come for the Blackhawks to show the dead Wings who's the boss

blues625dec17.jpgThe Blackhawks are taking bold steps forward this season. But would you feel differently if somehow the Detroit Red Wings figured a way to beat them twice before Christmas?

What about a split with the Wings? That would leave a bad taste, too, and sour the holiday eggnog, as well.

The Hawks aren't going to win 'em all, but even a split with Detroit in the next key segment would be reason to say "bah, humbug."

Two wins over Detroit would be the start of a sea change, further proof that there is indeed a new sheriff in town and times have changed dramatically since Detroit ended the Blackhawks' championship dream in the Western Conference finals last season by showing they were the much superior team.

No matter how far these Blackhawks have come this year, and it has been an exciting climb into the NHL elite, it remains a matter of sound mental health for Blackhawks fans to be able to say that they truly have the dead wings out of their system, barbecued and burnt beyond recognition with injury losses of Nik Kronwall, Johan Franzen, Dan Cleary and Valtteri Filppula.

That can only happen if there isn't a repeat of that 3-2 loss in Detroit to start the season on familiar ground after their campaign commenced in Finland. Losing to the Wings is much too familiar, and that's why the momentum between them has to swing now for Chicago to really enjoy the fruits of its labors.

First up, of course, is Boston Friday night. But come Sunday when Detroit visits United Center and Dec. 23 at Joe Louis Arena, the Blackhawks will face a litmus test of how good they are. In between those Wings games there's also a team called the San Jose Sharks in town for another measuring-standard challenge, those same Sharks the Hawks defeated not too long back in California for a statement game that they had become one of the NHL's top clubs.

The Wings, of course, haven't stopped believing they have Chicago's number. Even with losing Marian Hossa in free agency to Chicago and having its offense stripped down, you don't think Detroit is going to concede anything, do you?

I mean, you can catch them feeling sorry for themselves.

"It's almost like a playoff game every game," defenseman Nik Lidstrom told the Detroit Free Press. "I don't think we are looked at as one of the favorites this year. People look at us--we're slowing down or we don't have much offense anymore."

Aw! Don't you feel bad for Detroit? With all the blessings that have been bestowed on us in Chicago and here we have these poor orphans looking for a boost up in life.

"That is a challenge," Lidstrom said. "We're not up with the favorites, anymore."

That's just what the Wings want Chicago to think. They want to sucker them into believing there is no chance for them to match the Blackhawks.

While technically that might be true, until the Blackhawks prove it's so over and over again there is no reason for anyone to consider Chicago better than Detroit. You might think it's true, but that won't be true unless the Hawks can go 2-0 against Detroit in the next week.

Kronwall even told the Free Press reporter as much when he was asked about the new underdog role the Wings are playing.

"In here, we know what we have," Kronwall said defiantly. "We know what's we're capable of."

We all like to believe we know what the Blackhawks are capable of. But we really don't know with a cocksure attitude.

The next four games should tell us where we stand. Small segments of the season will tell a bigger tale and impact what's to come.

The Bruins come in Friday with just three goals in their last two games, so another shutout seems within reason if the Hawks keep their skates on the opponents' necks.

Boston has even scrambled their lines at a recent practice in hopes of better results with center Marc Savard skating with Michael Sturm and Michael Ryder and Patrice Bergeron asked to center for Daniel Paille and Mark Recchi.

The next two lines were David Krejci centering for Blake Wheeler and Byron Bitz and Vladimir Sobotka between Steve Begin and Shawn Thornton.

Taking care of business has become a Blackhawks' calling card, so they probably won't look beyond the Bruins to Detroit and the Sharks.

But I hope they don't mind if I do.

And before I go I would like to offer a piece of advice to Patrick Kane, who has become the apologizer in chief for bad boy athletes anywhere, be it Michael Vick or Tiger Woods.

I'm no certified marketing genuis. But I think it's time for Kane to just say no when asked to sympathize with other athletes who have strayed from the beaten path.

As Stan Mikita wisely said in a WGN radio interview Wednesday night, Kane is making a better "presentation" of himself as a player than he did last season.

If we are all ready to let his summer trangressions lay in the trunk of hazy memories, he should join us in stopping himself the next time he is asked about it in any way.

Let's play hockey. Let's not lobby for an Oprah appearance by being a handy hanky helper, which really just allows Kane to revel in his own bad-boy image.

Let's beat Detroit. Not once. But twice. Let's all move on in life and leave the dead Wings to the hanky brigade.



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FearlessFreep said:


I think I might have mentioned this in a previous post - until the Hawks beat Detroit, there is always a lingering doubt about how good this team is. The worst mistake the Hawks can make is to think that the Wings are a weaker team now than last year...even if it may in fact be true. The Hawks need to exorcise the "demons" that have cursed them over the last number of years, not just the prior one. Detroit has had the Hawks' number - it's time to get that back; as you said, to prove that there is a "new sheriff in town".

And don't think the Wings don't know that too. They see the Hawks threatening their perch. They will fight tooth and nail to keep it.

Hostile Hawk said:


You said it.
It might be crazy, but it is hard to look at this season as successful so far if we can't beat the Wings. I am sometimes shocked at how much it is a part of my being as a Hawks fan.

Dave Morris said:


Mister Kiley, your profile of the Hawks-Wings rivalry is bang on.

Troy Murray once said that playing the Red Wings was like going to war.

Looking at the teams' histories, it's like two brothers feuding from cradle to grave.

You can't ask for a better story as the background for great hockey.

And like you said, there's no team the Blackhawks want to beat--and need to beat--more than the Red Wings.

The Mob From Motown feel the same hate...and they will have it dialed up for Sunday.

Plenty of adult beverages on tap for these death matches.

Dave Morris said:


By the way, Mike, your article has already been posted by the members of Red Wing Nation.

In a piece entitled "Little Brother With Some Sack?", your message has been heard and it has elicited much comment. Check it out:

You've got quite the fan club in D-Troit.


VegasHawksFan said:


I think taking points away from a divisional opponent is much more important than short term bragging rights. Back in spring, the Wings were running on fumes and won purely on experience. With the exception of the one blowout, the Hawks kept it close and at least two of those games could have gone either way. Neither of these teams right now are comparable to the versions that faced each other last spring and will likely not be the same if they square off again this spring.

The bad thing here is that the wings are currently the exact kind of team that has been beating the Hawks with regularity this season. They are barely in the playoff picture, somewhat offensively challenged with key people out but still able to play some tight D. The good thing is that against the Bolts and the Blues, we handily (finally) beat two teams we should have and since the start of the season, the D has tightened up considerably. It's there for the taking, but I don't know that it's a season determining yardstick whether we win or lose.

The next two weeks are a tough haul. We should beat Boston, but we shoulda beat a bunch of other teams too. In between the wings we have an angry but struggling sharks team to face, back to backs with a surging preds and then Dallas and NJ, the latter of which has allowed only a couple of more goals against than we have. Realistically, we aren't going to win all those games but I do hope we do our best work against the wings and preds given the divisional standings.

dum dum alouwishes said:

user-pic just HAD to say the "S" word...didn't ya...??
Well, go ahead. say it til your blue in the face NOW...shutoutshutoutshutout....nice goin

SouthSideHawkMan said:


Mike, I love the "Dead" Wing reference! Keep up the great work! Go Hawks. Zetterberg's out for atleast two weeks with a seperated shoulder, love it!

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