Blackhawks win before rivalry put on hold
Blackhawks fans won't be able to do their favorite chant until they see the Red Wings again on March 16.
You know, Detroit (bleeps).
Following years as division rivals with the Hawks, the Red Wings are in the Eastern Conference now and will play games against the West only twice a year.
Detroit isn't scheduled to appear at the United Center until March, while the Hawks play at Joe Louis Arena on Jan. 22.
"There's been a great history and great tradition, some great battles and great wars," coach Joel Quenneville said before the Hawks went out and blanked Detroit 2-0 on Tuesday night in their preseason opener. "We'll lose that type of a rival, but I still think that in two games we can recapture that.
"It will take awhile before it loses its luster. We're coming off an amazing playoff round with them and years of some great games."
The Hawks needed overtime in Game 7 to dispose of Detroit last spring in the Western Conference semifinals. Tuesday's game, decided on goals by Patrick Sharp and Ben Smith 1:09 apart in the final four minutes of the second period, came nowhere near matching the intensity of that series.
"I'm sure they have some players who were here last year that aren't too happy with the way things went down, so they'll probably be trying to get a little revenge," Patrick Kane said before the game. "I'm sure they'll be thinking about the last time they were here and what happened in that Game 7."
Teemu Pulkkinen wasn't with the Red Wings last spring, but he tried to gain revenge for something when he ran Hawks defenseman Mike Kostka into the boards from behind just 2:16 into the game.
Kostka had to leave and never returned, while Pulkkinen got a major for boarding and was ejected. "A very dangerous play," said Quenneville, who will know more about Kostka's condition Wednesday.
Hawks goalie Corey Crawford got the win in a relatively easy 19-save performance.
Detroit's two biggest off-season acquisitions were on the ice in right wing Daniel Alfredsson and center Stephen Weiss. Alfredsson was signed as a free agent after spending 17 seasons in Ottawa; Weiss was signed as a free agent after 10 seasons in Florida.
Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jimmy Howard stayed back in Detroit.
"They're going to be one of the top teams in the league," Quenneville said.
It was Brandon Saad's official debut at center, and he skated between Sharp and Jeremy Morin. Saad was 1-for-5 on faceoffs in the first period and finished 4-10.
"It's a new experience for me, but it's getting better every day," he said. "Faceoffs are something I'm going to have to work at, for sure."
Saad said he was surprised to be moved to center after being a Calder Trophy finalist at left wing, but the Hawks obviously believe he is one of their top six forwards.
"With the success I had on the wing, it's a little surprising," Saad said. "But they're looking for spots to be filled. Playing center is the only spot open now (in the top six)."
Quenneville was eager to see how Saad responded defensively.
"You get a gauge on the other side of the puck," Quenneville said. "Offensively, we know what he can do. Defensively, let's see that responsibility and see how he moves and how he reads, and we'll go from there."
Morin set up Sharp's goal late in the second period with a nifty drop pass. Hayes assisted on Smith's goal when his shot from the deep slot was tipped in.
•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.
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