8:12 PM CDT, May 16, 2013
So this is the dreamy, second-round match up that was to titillate the senses? The type of grudge match that was to rekindle all the deep-seeded ill feelings Chicagoans and Detroiters had for each other in the days of the old Norris Division?
The hammer and the nail have no rivalry. The nail may not like the hammer, but it's disdain for it does not constitute a rivalry because the hammer barely acknowledges the nail's existence.
Right now the Blackhawks are the hammer and the Red Wings are the nail. That will not change during the duration of these Western Conference semifinals.
Mike Babcock's Wings, who've lost eight straight to the Hawks, aren't good enough to make this a contemptuous, long series. Nor do they possess the "criminal element" that guys like Bob Probert, Joey Kocur, Darren McCarty and Keith Primeau provided to make Detroit as loathsome as it was decades ago.
Whatever jealousies that existed from the Red Wings' 11 Stanley Cup titles — the last in 2008 — faded to black and white when the Hawks hoisted the Cup three years ago next month.
The Blackhawks didn't unearth any revelations in their 4-1 win Wednesday night in the series opener. The Presidents' Trophy winners merely confirmed their status as the best in the West. More than in any of their four wins against Minnesota in the opening round, the Hawks played like a championship hockey team.
A tip of the cap to Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard for keeping his team alive Wednesday, but all one needed to see was the final period to reach the conclusion the Red Wings don't belong in the same rink.
The Blackhawks are too fast for Detroit. They're too deep. The Hawks are much more experienced, especially at the blue line. They're too well conditioned.
Chicago is too everything for a Wings team that appeared out of gas after going a full seven games against Anaheim in the first round.
Oh, there may be a scrap or two along the way that elicits the barnyard "Detroit Sucks" chant. Justin Abdelkader provided one in Game 1 when he ragdolled Dave Bolland to the ice with a decisive two-point takedown.
The tomfoolery and eye-for-an-eye approach to this rivalry, however, is yesterday's news. It's just as well Detroit is moving to the Eastern Conference next year.
I don't miss the scrums after every whistle. The clutching and grabbing and jawjacking that used to be so much a part of the Chicago-Detroit matchups. The NHL has evolved and it's for the better.
The Blackhawks are an exciting, highly-skilled hockey team. That's entertainment.
If you favor wrestling, let me recommend a Hawks-Blues game for you next fall. Barret Jackman and Ryan Reaves still will be working in St. Louis. They just won't be good enough to sniff more than one round of the playoffs.
Meantime, enjoy these not-so-spicy Wings, who are nothing more than an annoying impediment that won't take long to remove.
•The NHL Friday will announce the finalists for the Jack Adams award, given annually to the league's best coach. Two coaches will be nominated in addition to Joel Quenneville, who pretty much secured the honor after his Hawks went the first 24 games without a regulation loss.
•Patrick Sharp's empty-netter in Game 1 was his sixth goal in as many games this postseason. Before the series started, Sharp was a 15-to-1 choice to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoffs MVP. Get on it now before the odds go down.
•Remember when Ray Emery was pushing Corey Crawford for the starter's job? Was that really this season?
•I don't find NBC's Pierre McGuire nearly as objectionable as many observers, but I disagree with McGuire's take on Nick Leddy's delay of game penalty in Game 1. The between-the-benches reporter suggested the delay infraction shouldn't be called when it's not the "intention" of the clearing player to lift the puck over the half boards.
The intent is irrelevant. A player who's reckless with his stick may not have intended to cut an opponent's face, but if he did, he gets a double minor for high-sticking. By definition, what Leddy did was delay the game, hence the reason for the rule.
•If you're looking for Game 2 on the radio Saturday, you'll find John Wiedeman and Troy Murray on The Loop, 97.9-FM. The Hawks flagship, WGN-AM 720, will be airing the Cubs-Mets.
Special contributor Dan McNeil hosts "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" weekdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.
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