It’s hard to imagine that the Red Wings and the Blackhawks have played a combined 73 games already this season – without playing one another.
The Wings were bound for the Windy City Thursday afternoon where they will finally face the Blackhawks for the first time this season. Friday’s game at the United Center will mark the first time in league history that the two clubs have gone this late into a season without facing one another.
The Western Conference-leading Blackhawks are three-points ahead of the Wings, who like Chicago, has 23 wins on the season.
The last time the two Central Division teams went this long before their first head-to-head meeting since league expansion – was Dec. 8, 1998 – a 3-2 win for Detroit at Joe Louis Arena. In all, Friday’s contest is just the sixth first-time meeting in December for these two rivals (when there wasn't a league disruption), and the first in Chicago.
To make up for lost time, the Wings and Hawks will see each other three times over the next 10 days. The final three meetings of the season series comes in the form of single games in February, March and April.
Over the last five seasons, the Wings are 10-4-1 with seven one-goal victories at Chicago.
Prior to Friday, the Wings have played every Western Conference team, at least once, with the exception of the Blackhawks, this season.