I guess it's only fitting that it should be the Blackhawks and Red Wings battling for the right to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Who would have thought back on November 24, 1926 when the Detroit Cougars -- now the Red Wings -- first faced the Black Hawks that their rivalry would extend well past 700 more regular season matchups, not to mention the 70-plus playoff meetings?
Many hockey observers have already given this series to Detroit, and said that the Blackhawks lack the experience needed to defeat the reigning Stanley Cup champs. But aren't they the same people who said the Hawks were destined to be ousted in the first round? Or that they couldn’t get past Roberto Luongo and the Canucks? Forgive me if I don’t believe the Hawks’ thrilling postseason run has ended just yet.
Stop me if this script sounds familiar: a young team led by up-and-coming stars and backstopped by a seasoned goaltender takes on a veteran team full of Stanley Cup winners.
That was the Hawks’ story in 1961 – during the team’s last championship run – as a young band of players led by Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Calder Trophy winner Bill Hay, plus veteran goalie Glenn Hall, defeated the Red Wings in six games on their way to the Cup.
With any luck, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Nikolai Khabibulin are all ready to play their parts in the ultimate sequel: a shot at the franchise's first championship in 48 years.
Though it followed a similar plot, the outcome was decidedly different the last time the two archrivals faced off in 1995. That postseason, the Hawks knocked off two Canadian teams -- Toronto and Vancouver -- before being knocked out of the playoffs by Detroit in the conference finals. Although the Red Wings won the series 4-1, all of their victories came by one goal, and three of their wins required overtime.
Regardless of the outcome, this postseason has been one heck of a ride. But buckle up – it certainly isn’t over yet!