Red Wings meet Blackhawks in renewed division rivalry this weekend

Detroit enters weekend games with chance to gain space in Central Division standings

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) celebrates his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The rejuvenated Detroit Red Wings (2-2-0) will play two games against an old division foe this weekend.

The Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks used to enjoy a heated rivalry in the Norris and Central divisions dating back to the early 1980s. Of course, the teams have a history dating even further back to the Original Six era of the NHL.

What all this history actually means to the current rosters is unclear, but we know it matters to the fans. It always has been a fierce rivalry between the two fanbases. I’ve seen the best and worst of it at Joe Louis and Little Caesars arenas -- from friendly chirps to actual beers being thrown.

The United Center in Chicago won’t have general attendance this weekend, but the rivalry lives on through our televisions.

Weekend games:

This weekend, Detroit and Chicago will meet again as rivals in the realigned Central Division created due to the pandemic. The Wings and Hawks may be competing for the last place spot this time around. But the Red Wings are off to a better-than-expected start with two wins through four games -- they should expect to have the upper hand in these meetings.

The Blackhawks (0-3-1) have suffered a dismal start to the season with -11 goal deficit through their first four games. Chicago is without their two top centers, Kirby Dach (injured at World Juniors) and captain Jonathan Toews, who is out indefinitely with an undisclosed medical issue. We already expected it to be a tough season for the Blackhawks, a team going through its own rebuild, but without its two top players at the center position and no elite goaltender, things have gone from bad to worse.

Here’s a look at the current Central Division standings heading into Friday night:

This weekend is an opportunity for the Red Wings to gain some ground in the standings and prove they have a shot at hanging in the middle of the Central Division. Remember, the entire 56-game season will be played within each division -- the Wings and Hawks meet eight times.

The top four teams from each of the four divisions make the playoffs -- a bit of a change from the top three making it plus two wild card spots. There are no wild card spots this season, opening the door for a team like Detroit to sneak into the postseason in fourth place.

This could be the most fun Red Wings fans have had in years, even if it is from the couch.

Kick back and enjoy the action this weekend. Hopefully there are plenty of goals for the Red Wings.

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About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.