The United Center will be going absolutely crazy tonight. The warm summer weather that has finally arrived in the “Windy City” will futher inflame the crowd’s passions for this matchup.
The Detroit Red Wings’ resurgent offense enters the UC having upset the Pacific Division Champion Ducks in seven. The Wings have set themselves up for one of the most heated and highly anticipated series in recent memory. While Chicago managed to go 16-1-1 against the division in the regular season, Kane, Toews, Hossa and crew will certainly not take anything for granted.
The Blackhawks have to be shaking their heads in wonderment. They were 60 hockey minutes away from never having to care about Detroit again (the Wings move to the Northeast Division next year), and here they are in a semifinals matchup that’s going to be a lot closer than the regular season might suggest. The Red Wings have a history of owning the Blackhawks, which is one of the biggest reasons the Hawks’ have only managed to acquire the one title over the last 40 years. These Wings have scary momentum going for them, and while Chicago did have the layoff they also had the easier opponent in the Wild and so there may be some concern for temporary complacency. The Wings have already won a game 7 on the road and defeated a team that they weren’t nearly as familiar with as the Hawks. Furthermore, Detroit’s first round success was achieved while having the longest commute of any opening round series.
Pavel Datsyuk, Damien Brunner and Henrik Zetteberg lead the Wings, but while there’s no Lidstrom this time around, there’s still a core remaining who are going to give it their all. The Chicago Blackhawks should win this series, but it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that Detroit comes to town and wrestles one of these first two at the UC and goes home with a split.
The Hawks dispatched the Wild fairly easily. The Wild were just not ready to step up to the Hawks’ level of play. The Red Wings, however, fell behind the Ducks three games to two then won in seven. These are not the Red Wings who failed to beat the Hawks during the regular season. The Madhouse on Madison will be rocking with the highest energy and competition you’ll see in any sport. While Chicago comes in with the flashy record, there’s still only one “Hockeytown” and the Blackhawks better not overlook history. During pregame warmups, the Hawks might take a gander up at the rafters tonight and note the big gap in banners. Then they might lower their sights to the other side of the red line to see the cause of so much frustration staring right back.