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At the Rink blog

Blackhawks, Blues looking to heat up rivalry

Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 4:10 PM

By Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

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2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Blackhawks, Blues looking to heat up rivalry

ST. LOUIS -- Maxim Lapierre has seen the rivalry with the Chicago Blackhawks from a different perspective as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

Blackhawks fans might consider the Detroit Red Wings their main rival. But from a players' perspective, it was the Canucks. And the hatred was clear from both sides.

Now playing for the Blues after signing a two-year contract during the summer, Lapierre said he feels like he could be witnessing the rebirth of the St. Louis-Chicago rivalry.

The two Central Division foes will renew acquaintances Wednesday when the Blues host the Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET as NBCSN's featured "Wednesday Night Rivalry" game.

Lapierre said he knows all about rivalries with Chicago.

"It was a big rivalry when we were in Vancouver, but it seems like it's going to be even bigger here now," Lapierre said. "I think we know what our plan is this year. We want to win and there's no better way to prove it to the League than by beating the Stanley Cup champions.

"Tonight you go in there like it's a playoff game. You want to block every shot, you want to hit everybody. We know it's going to be a special energy. I just can't wait to play."

There's always a buzz when the defending champs are in town. Especially when it's a team the Blues will be chasing not only for the Stanley Cup but also for the Central Division title.

"They won last year because they had the most committed 200-foot players," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of the Blackhawks. "That's why they won. Their skill guys were committed, their workers were committed, their whole team was committed to play 200 feet and they won because of it.

"When your best players are committed to play 200 feet, it's a winning combination. They had it, then they got away from it and now they've got it again. That's a challenge for anyone that plays them. They play a sound game."

Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane has heard of the history of the Blues-Blackhawks rivalries of the late 1980s and early 1990s and understands why people want to see it again.

"Now it seems like everyone kind of wants the St. Louis-Chicago rivalry to come back and to be our biggest rivalry now," Kane said. "You hear different things here and there [of the history]. I've always liked the history of the game of hockey so you know these guys were pretty big rivals back in the day, 20 to 30 years ago, whatever it was. Hopefully that comes back.

"It's always a fun game when you play these guys. You know it's going to be physical. You can see that rivalry heat up as time goes on."

The days of the Norris Division always brought out the best in the two teams, from Ed Belfour's tirade following a Blues sweep in 1993 to the 1991 regular-season game dubbed the "St. Patrick's Day Massacre," where 12 players were ejected following a third-period fracas that started with the Blues' Glen Featherstone and the Blackhawks' Jeremy Roenick.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who coached the Blues from 1996-2004, said he can see that type of intensity resurfacing again.

"I can see the rivalries picking up within our own division knowing that you're going to be playing these teams regularly," Quenneville said. "Then you're going to have to beat them in the playoffs to move along here. Once you get that one playoff series and then here you're going again the next season and all of a sudden you're playing them in the following playoff. It's going to create some different intensity that we've seen.

"It's been a lot of years since you've had to win your own division. I think those rivalries from the past when it was the Norris Division were very memorable, very competitive, very tough. I can see the rivalry between Chicago and St. Louis carry over from year to year and getting back to that history quickly and it extends right into the stands and the fans. It's very passionate groups in both areas. I thought you could feel it the last couple years, but I would imagine this year it's probably going to go to a new level."

Here are the probable lineups each team will use Wednesday:

BLUES

Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Brenden Morrow - Derek Roy - Chris Stewart

Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Tarasenko

Vladimir Sobotka - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Jordan Leopold - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Magnus Paajarvi, Adam Cracknell, Ian Cole

BLACKHAWKS

Bryan Bickell - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane

Patrick Sharp - Michal Handzus - Marian Hossa

Brandon Saad - Andrew Shaw - Jimmy Hayes

Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Joakim Nordstrom

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy - Sheldon Brookbank

Corey Crawford

Nikolai Khabibulin

Scratched: Ben Smith, Michal Rozsival, Michael Kostka

Quote of the Day

When we started our journey we made a commitment to our fans to be relevant and to see the Chicago Blackhawks become the best professional hockey organization. There are not two finer symbols of that than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The commitment we have made to these incredible young men is equal to the commitment they have made to our team, our fans, our entire organization and the city of Chicago.

— Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz on signing Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to contract extensions