“I don’t think it’s going anywhere,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said after the Blackhawks’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Wings on Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena. “Both teams still know what it means to play one another.”
With the Wings moving from the Western to the Eastern Conference, they’ll meet their Original Six rival only twice during the regular season.
"Both teams still know what it means to play one another," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said of the fierce competition with the Red Wings.
“It might add to it now that we see each other less often,” Toews said. “Tonight, it was maybe a bit of a slower start, but the intensity picked up. We saw the type of game that we’re used to out of them later in the game.”
Chicago disposed of Detroit in a best-of-seven series last year in the second round of the playoffs, needing to come back from a 3-1 deficit in games. The final two games in the series were decided by one goal, with Game 7 going to overtime.
“You know the other team is going to be excited when you play them in their building,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a great Round 2 series with them. It was a big series being down 3-1, so you knew they were going to be excited about the challenge. And the guys that have been up from Grand Rapids work hard. They’ve got some skill and they're relentless and they play the way the other guys play. It was workmanlike on their side and not so much on ours.”
Wednesday was the 726th all-time meeting between the teams.
“It’s fun every time we play them,” Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey said. “We had a great series in the playoffs last year. That was a fun game to be a part of. I'm guessing it was a great game to watch, too.”
Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith said he doesn’t think the Wings-Hawks rivalry will ever die.
“Every time we get a chance to play them in the regular season, I think it will just kind of live back up to its standards,” he said.
Meetings in the playoffs usually breed rivalries or sustain them, but Toews doesn’t see that to be an issue for keeping this one alive.
“Maybe it’s more concentrated and more focused on two games than it would be three, four, five or six otherwise,” Toews said. “I think these are still two cities that won’t forget about that. We won’t see each other quite as often, at least a couple times a year, but I think fans will ... enjoy watching these games.”
Quenneville agreed the rivalry is still strong.
“The way that playoff series went and the number of battles these two teams have had over the years and the way the fans are with both teams, very passionate for their home team, you tend to get both teams represented in either team’s buildings,” he said.
“Even though it’s one game in each building a year, I think it will be instantly recaptured -- the intensity, the animosity and the rivalry. It’s always fun to come back here, and we know how important the game is for both teams.”
The last time the teams met in the Stanley Cup finals was 1961, with the Blackhawks winning the series 4-1. Prior to that it was 1934, with Chicago winning the series 3-1.
“Obviously, we could only meet them for the Stanley Cup,” Smith said. “[Rivalries] are built through playoffs. But throughout the regular season last year, we saw them quite a bit and we built a rivalry up in just how the season went and how close the games were. They were killing teams and we kept it close, one-goal games or beating them.”