While watching the Hawks-Wings Winter Classic Warmup last night, I had an epiphany. Following the Stars for lo these many years, I've heard much about Dallas' (and Marty Turco's) "Red Wings Curse", in reference to their inability to beat Detroit. Watching Chicago fall, 4-0, to Detroit last night (taking them to 0-1-2 on the season against the Wings), I began to wonder whether the Blackhawks were now afflicted with The Curse. Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning...or maybe like that little bit of static electricity when you reach out for the doorknob...it hit me:
There ain't no stinkin' curse!
What's happened to Dallas over the last decade (until last season's Western Conference Finals, that is) may very well happen to Chicago now. Simply put, the Red Wings have the ability to find another gear when playing top-flight opponents (Exhibit A: DET 6, SJS 0). Last season, Detroit went 17-12-3 against the Central Division, but 39-7-4 against the rest of the NHL. Last season, Nashville was the only other Central Division team (Detroit aside) to make the playoffs, sliding into the 8th seed. In 08/09, the Wings' Central Division opponents are improved overall, with only St. Louis out of playoff contention at this time. So far this season, Detroit is 6-1-0 against the Central Division. Coincidence? I think not. The Wings see a threat, and rise to meet it.
Don't expect Detroit to sweep the season series with Chicago, though; I wouldn't bet on Ty Conklin putting up too many more 36-save shutouts against Toews, Kane & Co. Last night, the Hawks proved that they can dominate the Wings, as they outshot Detroit, 12-1, in the first ten minutes. Tomorrow, Chicago has the home ice advantage AND something to prove. Tomorrow, Ty Conklin becomes the answer to a trivia question: Which player has participated in all three of the NHL's outdoor games? If the Blackhawks have their way, Conklin will become the answer to another question: Who was the first goalie to be chased from the net in a Winter Classic game? Regardless, it's going to be must-see TV. DON'T MISS IT!