We call them Scum or the Dead Things. When they come to the United Center we scream out "Detroit Sucks!" There are even some idiots that like to start that chant even when the Wings aren't in town. The rivalry goes all the way back to November 24th, 1926 when the Wings, known as the Cougars back then, played the Hawks for the first time at the old Chicago Coliseum. Detroit won the game 1-0 for their first NHL win in franchise history. No two NHL teams have faced each other more in the regular season than the Hawks and Wings. The hatred between these two iconic teams have been passed down through generations. But, for one night we should put all this aside and cheer for the Wings to get past the Anaheim Ducks.
If Detroit wins they will play the Hawks in the Conference Semi Finals. This will also eliminate the Ducks, the one team in the Western Conference that gave the Hawks fits during the regular season. Even though I have no doubts the Hawks would take them down in a seven game series, it will be nice to not have to worry about the Ducks. If the Wings lose, the Blackhawks will be taking on the Sharks in the next round.
From a match ups standpoint, neither team really worries me. The Hawks swept both teams in the regular season, going a combined 7-0 against San Jose and Detroit. Both teams want to play a more wide open, up and down the ice, style of game, which plays right into the Hawks favor.
The Sharks do have more size and will be a bit more physical than the Wings. They have Joe Thornton who has a hard on for punching Johnathan Toews in the back of the head. They acquired the human skid mark Raffi Torres at the trade deadline, so we would have to deal with that story line shoved down our throats. I really don't want to read 10,000 Tweets about Gorilla Salad and Torres. If the Hawks play the Wings, you will have to worry one of Niklas Kronwall's "legal" hits and the antics of Todd Bertuzzi. Niether is worse than dealing with Thornton and Torres.
The Sharks have the better goalie in Vezina finalist Antti Niemi, who is having one of the best seasons of his career. It seemed that Nemo was fantastic against everybody but the Blackhawks. Niemi went 0-3, with a 3.36 GAA and a .901 save % in his 3 starts versus his former team this year. Jimmy Howard was very good down the stretch to get the Wings into the post season. Howard went 0-1-3 against the Hawks this year, with a 2.50 GAA and a .912 save %. Howard only has 4 wins against the Hawks in 17 career regular season starts. Neither goalie has faced the Blackhawks in the post season yet.
Yes, the Sharks looked very good while sweeping the Canucks out of the playoffs. I think that series was a combination of good play from the San Jose and bad play from the Canucks. The Sharks got fat off scoring 7 power play goals on 24 chances. They will not get that luxury versus the Blackhawks. I am not scared of the Sharks, nor am I scared of any team in the NHL right now, but I would much rather play the Red Wings. It has nothing to do with the rivalry, or getting to send the Wings off to the Eastern Conference. The biggest reason I want to play the Wings is a very selfish reason; no 9 o'clock starts! I am tired of these late starts considering my alarm clock goes off at 4:30 am every morning. In my eyes, the match ups with these two teams are pretty much even, so if I can get myself an extra couple hours of sleep during this series, I am all for it!