It almost feels like we're about to get what we're owed as fans in the NHL playoffs this year.
It was once a great rivalry stoked by constant playoff meetings in the 80s and 90s. And it came back with a roaring vengeance last season, fueled by controversial hits and overtime thrillers.
Clearly that tension and excitement lingers a year later. NBC bills nights like that as "The Night You Love To Hate," but there was very little to dislike if you weren't a fan of either team. The Blues made the Blackhawks pay for penalty mistakes, and Jake Allen and Corey Crawford exchanged brilliant saves at both ends throughout the night. That it ended in a shootout is telling. These are two clubs capable of knock-down, drag-'em-out affairs every time they meet (no matter if the Blackhawks are clearly the superior squad). (Sorry, Blues fans.)
So, if there's one desired playoff series matchup we get this year, let it be the Blues and Blackhawks.
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3 things we learned
1. There are too many outdoor games
There, I said it. Now we can move on.
Okay, wait, one more thing: It's great that the Maple Leafs are getting their own version of the Winter Classic for their 100th-year celebration. And it's on New Year's Day! If any team deserved a Winter Classic bone being thrown to them, it was the Leafs in 2017.
But aside from that, there are too many outdoor games.
1A. And the Blackhawks have over-saturated them
Okay, I'm really done this time.
2. In theory, the Islanders should be fine without Jaroslav Halak
He's gone for six to eight weeks, but if you're an Isles fan and you look at Thomas Greiss' stats this year you might feel comforted. He has a stellar 2.23 GAA and a decent .923 save percentage behind a team playing some of its best hockey of the year. On paper, that means New York can survive without Halak.
But then Greiss and the Islanders gave up three goals (including the game-winner with minutes left) to a Maple Leafs team that was essentially made up of minor leaguers and teenage rookies. Not a great start to the Greiss era. But probably nothing to worry about going forward.
See if you can decipher this one.
Ryan Reaves may or may not be suspended in the coming days, but what's not in doubt is the fact he was already on very thin ice when he laid into Christian Ehrhoff on Wednesday: