The Blackhawks-Red Wings rivalry will go out with a bang.
The two Original Six franchises and longtime arch-enemies will meet in the Western Conference semifinals this week, following Detroit's Game 7 victory at Anaheim on Sunday night. It will be the last time the Hawks and Wings meet as conference rivals, as Detroit heads to the Eastern Conference next season. Game 1 will be Wednesday at the United Center, followed by Game 2 on Saturday. The rest of the schedule will be released on Monday.
The Hawks swept the season series, winning all four games, and have won seven straight against the Wings dating back to last season. But Detroit won its last four games in the regular season to get into the playoffs, and rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the second-seeded Ducks -- a team that beat the Hawks three times this season.
"They had a big run to get in the playoffs, and you watch them in games, you know how they're intelligent, they know how to win, they know how to play the right way," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "They keep themselves in the play. We know how dangerous they can be."
Hawks goalie Corey Crawford has been sensational against Detroit. In his career, he's 11-2-2 against the Red Wings with a 1.82 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. Those are both career-bests against any team he's faced more than twice.
The Hawks, especially since eliminating the Minnesota Wild in five games, have been paying close attention to the Ducks-Wings series. Following a roller-coaster of a Game 6, in which the Wings blew a 3-1 lead late only to win in overtime, Hawks winger Patrick Sharp praised Detroit.
"That's the Red Wings' type of game," he said. "I've seen them in that situation down 3-1, I've seen them up 3-1. They don't change the way they play, and that's one of the reasons why they've been successful for a long time. They're a team that's pretty resilient. That series has been fun to watch.
Had the Ducks won the series, the Hawks would have faced the San Jose Sharks. Sharp had no preference.
"No, not really," he said. "I dislike both teams equally. So no matter who we play, it's going to be a pretty intense series. Both teams skate well, they're physical, they're well-coached, and it's going to be a battle. Hopefully we can use this time off to heal up, to get focused and play our best hockey."