By Scott King
4:26 PM CDT, March 18, 2014
Blackhawks fans may not despise St. Louis as much as they hate Vancouver or Detroit, but a rivalry certainly has been brewing the past few seasons.
As of Wednesday, the Blues lead the Central Division with 101 points, with the Hawks in third place (92 points) entering Tuesday. If Chicago is going to claim its second straight division title, it's logical that they have to close the gap beginning in Wednesday night's matchup at the United Center.
In addition to the bad blood that seems to be building, here's what fans can expect when these teams face off.
"We know they're a good team. We know what to expect from them. I think [the rivalry has] been going the last few years for sure. There's always [been] tough games between those two teams and nothing has changed there."
"Two good teams, tough opponents. It's going to come down to the wire here probably with a bunch of teams in our division, so these games are huge. especially when we play them five times this year. The head-to-head games are more important. They have a lot of depth up front and two great goalies, some tough D-men [defensemen] out there. They've been a strong team for the last couple years and it's no different this year."
"St. Louis is a very tough team, especially in their building. You go in to every game with the expectation that you want to play a good team system, team game and create your chances off your defense, but especially against the Blues. They protect their net so well and it's tough to get scoring opportunities that when you do get those opportunities you want to make sure they count."
"They're starting to show that they're a real contender and seem to be a team that's been up there and had some good cracks at it the last few years, and again this year they're one of the top teams."
Scott King is a RedEye special contributor.
SO THAT EXPLAINS IT
St. Louis tends to bring out the worst in the Blackhawks. Although they average 8.3 penalty minutes per game this season, that number jumps to 14.7 in three games against the Blues—all of which have been won by St. Louis.
Oct. 9: St. Louis 3, Chicago 2
Why so angry? Alexander Steen wins it for the Blues with 22 seconds left.
"Brutal loss," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said afterward. "We gotta get that game to overtime. …We'll take one, maybe two [points]. Getting none is unacceptable."
Oct. 17: St. Louis 3, Chicago 2 (SO)
Why so angry? The Hawks collect 23 penalty minutes, including 17 by Brandon Bollig.
"Awful," Quenneville said afterward. "Didn't like our game at all ... first 12 minutes I liked."
Dec. 28: St. Louis 6, Chicago 5 (SO)
Why so angry? The Hawks blow a two-goal lead in the third period.
"Of course it's frustrating," Patrick Kane said afterward. "We'll try to improve on that and try to make sure it doesn't happen the next time."
—RedEye; Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.
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