For the past 45 seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues have been joined at the hip. Whether it's the Western Division, Smythe Division, Norris Division or Central Division, where one goes, you'll find the other there as well.
The Blackhawks come to Scottrade Center for NBCSN's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) looking up at the Blues, who've won their first two games of the new season while Chicago, the defending Stanley Cup champion, has a win and a shootout loss.
The Blackhawks lost their oldest rival, the Detroit Red Wings, to realignment; Detroit is now in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. Detroit's departure leaves the Blackhawks and Blues as the top contenders for the Central Division title. That leaves the Blues as potentially Chicago's “new” biggest rival.
"We feel they're our new rivalry now," forward Bryan Bickell said. "It's going to be a like a playoff atmosphere, for sure, because they're physical and a hard team to play against in their building."
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, who coached the Blues from 1996-2004, has been on both sides.
"I think it's a rivalry. You feel it in the buildings and in the stands," he said. "These are big games. You go into them knowing that the implications of those two points could make a difference at the end of the year. When you play St. Louis, you know they're physical. You have to be ready to play a hard game, especially going into their building."
The teams are geographically close -- about 260 miles -- but far apart on the ice.
Chicago's Stanley Cup victory last spring was the fifth in franchise history. That’s five more than the Blues have won since joining the NHL in 1967. St. Louis is the only "Second Six" team that hasn't won a championship. To get one, it's likely that they'll have to beat Chicago at some point during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where the teams haven't met since 2002. Finishing ahead of the Blackhawks during the regular season, especially since the new playoff format is division-based, figures to be vital for a team that enjoys a significant home-ice advantage.
Of course, the simple joy of beating the defending champs is more than enough incentive for some.
"I think what creates the rivalry is they have the Cup and everybody wants a piece of it back," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.
This is the first of five games between the teams this season. They get together Oct. 17 at United Center. Chicago won three of the five meetings last season, though the Blues won 3-1 at home on the final day of the regular season.
|1-0-1 (4th, Central)||2013-14 Record||2-0-0 (T-2nd, Central)|
|138-108-35-5||Head-to-Head Regular-Season Record||113-126-35-12|
|0-1-0||Streak vs. Opponent||1-0-0|
|0-1-0 @ St. Louis||Home/road streak vs. Opponent||1-0-0 vs. Chicago|
|36||Hall of Famers||17|
|Bobby Hull||Most Famous Alumnus||Brett Hull|
|6||Hart Trophy winners||1|
|Nikolai Khabibulin||Best Offseason Acquisition||Derek Roy|
|Glenn Hall (1957-67)||Best Player in Common||Glenn Hall (1967-71)|