So, Calgary lost to Edmonton 5 to 1 Friday night north of the border. Due to this Flames loss, the Chicago Blackhawks have clinched the 4th seed in the west and home ice advantage in the first round. This is what their motivation has been the last few weeks since clinching a playoff berth. Now what? No need for a blog, right? Well, not to me.
The regular season ends this weekend with a pair of Blackhawks-Red Wings games. The Hawks, with their youthful talent and a veteran number one goalie, head to Motown for a battle with some veteran talent mixed with solid youngsters. The master Wings, the Central Division champions, have the Hawks' number this season.
Chicago has lost all four meetings with Detroit including the New Year's Day Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. Yes, the Hawks are in the postseason, but it is clearly not because of their play against Coach Mike Babcock's club. It is time the Hawks win a game against them and show that they belong with the team of the decade.
Detroit equals excellence on the rink, maybe not the car industry or football field, but their center ice is labeled "Hockey Town" for a reason. Joe Louis Arena is the place for sports fans in Motown, even more than the Palace that the Pistons call home. The Red Wings have a target on their backs, and Chicago has hardly hit that target this season.
It is time to get one this weekend and doing it in Detroit would be even better. That is the first game on Saturday, and then the teams will come south to Chicago for another matinee on Sunday. That is a nationally televised game and the final NHL on NBC game of the season. The network wants to go out on top, and picking the Hawks for their finale shows where the Chicago franchise has come.
Everybody knows where Detroit is in the NHL spectrum of elite teams and Chicago is right there. They may have home ice locked up for the opening round, but they need to keep playing well and take a game from the Wings. I hope Hawks coach Joel Quenneville feels the same way, and more importantly, I hope the team shares that feeling as well.