The playoff matchup that neutral hockey fans were hoping for is going to happen. Thanks to a Game 7 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, the Detroit Red Wings will take on the Chicago Blackhawks in a playoff series that some fans have dreamed about ever since the NHL announced new alignment for 2013-14.
With the Red Wings set to flip over to the East next season, this will be the last time the two rivals will face one another as Western Conference rivals.
Consider this playoff series bittersweet. The storied rivalry between the Red Wings and Blackhawks is coming to an end (for the most part) thanks to the new alignment. No longer will we see six meetings between these two teams during the regular season. The days of both squads fighting for the top spot in the Central Division are over. The odds of the two teams facing each other in the playoffs is slim, as starting next year both teams will have to make it to the Cup Finals for the rivalry to be renewed. The rivalry that we've all grown to love (or hate if you root for either CHI or DET) between two Original Six teams will go out with one last hurrah starting this week.
How will this storied rivalry end? We'll have to wait and see, but here's where things currently stand.
The Blackhawks and Red Wings have met 725 times in the regular season according to DetroitHockey.net. The Red Wings have won the regular season battle with a 363-278-84 record. The two teams will still play a couple regular season games each year even after the new alignment takes hold, but it's safe to say that things just won't be the same.
In the playoffs, things are closely contested. The two teams have met in the playoffs 15 times, the first series occurring back in 1934. The Blackhawks have won eight of those 15 meetings with a combined record of 39-35. Recently, and we use this term pretty loosely, Detroit has handled the Blackhawks in the playoffs. In 2009, Detroit ousted Chicago out of the Conference Finals four games to one. In 1995, the story was the same with Detroit advancing past the Conference Finals four games to one.
Let's hope we can close the door on the Conference rivalry between Chicago and Detroit with a memorable, entertaining series that goes the distance and ends with a Game 7 for the history books. Anything less might feel like a bit of a disappointment as a legendary NHL rivalry fades away.