Tonight's game between the Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes has that same after-school-fight feeling, which I remember from all throughout my childhood. Whether it involved myself and another opponent (this was rare as everyone in school loved me. Seriously, I was a pretty popular and fun-loving guy) or two friends of mine, there was always the rush of adrenaline that preceded the clock striking 3:00 p.m. and knowing it was going to go down.
The last time the Blackhawks faced the Coyotes with both Marian Hossa and Raffi Torres in the lineup, it was Game 3 in the first round of last year's playoffs. Torres launched himself into Hossa's head, knocking the Slovakian unconscious on the United Center ice, and marking Torres "Public Enemy Number One" amongst the Chicago faithful.
Since the vicious hit, Hossa has made great strides in his recovery, and is having a stellar season for the Blackhawks (6 goals; 4 assists in 10 games). Meanwhile, Torres finished his 25-game suspension and is claiming to be a new man with how he approaches hitting his opponents. Not buying it, Raffi.
Torres is saying whatever happens on the ice tonight, happens. Hossa is also steering clear of his intensions during the game. You can bet, however, that the rest of the Blackhawks have had this game circled on their calendars for 10 months, and I wouldn't be surprised if Brandon Bollig (6'2", 223 lbs.) or Dave Boland (6'0", 184 lbs.) took a run at Torres (6'0", 210 lbs.). And if they haven't had it marked, the fans have, including myself.
I'm sure coach Quenneville knows this is going to happen. Even the officials are anticipating the need to break up the impending fracas, much like the schoolyard teachers' aid would during recess. The key for this fight is to make sure it's done early in the game. The Blackhawks are well aware of their position in the Western Conference, and can't afford to lose momentum with suspensions or a loss due to too many penalties.
In the end, the testosterone will reach a boiling point, and Torres will get his. I'll admit that I'll be watching for it and cheering on whomever it is gets to Torres first. Yes, I'm not proud of this, and neither should you, but it's the law of the playground. Even Torres knows it.