The Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings will meet this Thursday (Nov. 30) for the first time since former Blackhawk Alex DeBrincat donned the winged wheel and joined his hometown team. While these two clubs aren’t in the same division anymore, they are both Original 6 teams with a rich history, and many past rivalries with each other. It’s always exciting when these two teams match up.
With this in mind, I reached out to my THW colleague Devin Little, who covers the Red Wings, to learn more about the current state of the team. After all, it never hurts to keep an eye on the enemy!
Kane to the Red Wings
Question: We might as well start with the BIG news. Patrick Kane is officially a member of the Red Wings! Who woulda thunk it?! So Devin, how are you feeling about the Kane signing?
Devin: When hockey insider Frank Seravalli mentioned the Red Wings as a potential fit for Kane back in October, I thought it was interesting, but I really didn’t expect it to happen. I figured a homecoming with the Buffalo Sabres was more likely than him signing with the Red Wings.
But here we are. Kane is a Red Wing, and I think it changes how people should and will think about the team’s standing in the NHL.
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Simply put, I don’t think Kane signs with the Red Wings if he isn’t impressed with not only the team’s plans for this season, but also beyond this season. I’m not saying he’s going to retire a Red Wing, but I think he sees a path to another championship by signing with Detroit – even if that championship doesn’t come with the Red Wings. If nothing else, Kane should be able to teach a young player like Lucas Raymond a few things, and you can’t put a price tag on that kind of knowledge and experience.
Gail: I’m not gonna lie; I’m excited about Kane & DeBrincat being reunited. They were so much fun to watch when they were Blackhawks. I’m sure they can’t wait to get back out on the ice together and re-create some of that old magic. Said Blackhawk’s defenseman Seth Jones of the news, “Reunited with the Cat! Gonna be a lot of seam passes!”
It sounds like Kane will need to get some practices under his belt before he plays, so we likely won’t see him in Thursday’s game. The next time the Red Wings and the Blackhawks play is on Feb. 25 at the United Center, so this should be Kane’s first time back in his old barn. Oh, and it also just happens to be the night the Blackhawks will retire Chris Chelios’ number. What a homecoming!
DeBrincat Joins His Hometown Team
Q: Speaking of DeBrincat, Blackhawks’ fans absolutely loved this dynamic winger in his five seasons with the Blackhawks. He’s currently in his first campaign with the Red Wings, his hometown team. What can you tell us about DeBrincat and his impact so far with his new club?
Devin: Perhaps the biggest impact DeBrincat has had on the Red Wings is elevating the team’s overall scoring potential. As of this writing, he’s in a four-way tie for the fourth-most goals in the NHL (currently at 12 goals), and it’s been a LONG time since Detroit has had a player capable of hanging with the big boys in that category.
Beyond that, DeBrincat has given Red Wings’ fans another hometown kid to cheer for. His jersey is flying off the shelves; and if you ask fans who their favorite new Red Wing is, I bet four out of five of them will say DeBrincat. He may have only signed a four-year deal in the offseason, but I think there’s a pretty good chance he’ll be around when the Red Wings are competing for Stanley Cups again.
Gail: I’m not surprised Red Wing fans love the Cat; he’s certainly missed around these parts. In his five seasons with the Blackhawks, DeBrincat scored 160! goals, and they all ended with his great big affable smile. Red Wings fans are likely going to see even more of that smile in the coming months!
Maatta’s Contributions on the Blue Line
Q: Defenseman Olli Maatta is another former Blackhawk, who played in Chicago in the 2019-20 season. He’s now in his second season with the Red Wings. Are you happy with what Maatta offers to the defensive corps?
Devin: Määttä has been a pleasant surprise in Detroit. Signed to a one-year deal during the 2022 offseason, the Finnish defenseman found immediate chemistry with Filip Hronek on the team’s second defense pairing. His quiet, no-nonsense game translated even after Red Wings’ general manager Steve Yzerman dealt Hronek to the Vancouver Canucks at the trade deadline, and Määttä was extended on a two-year deal before anyone could talk about him being dealt at the deadline as well.
I think anybody that has had Määttä on their favorite team knows what his game is all about. He’s a good defender that won’t put up a ton of points, but is capable of complementing a high-scoring defender. This season, he has often found himself playing alongside another high-scoring defenseman, Shayne Gostisbehere.
Gail: What I remember about Maatta is that he was always very well dressed. Does he still sport all those fancy suits?
Devin: Hahaha, yes, he still dresses quite well. He definitely has his fans across the Red Wings community.
Status of the Red Wings & Blackhawks Rebuild
Q: Chicago is pretty much in the first year of their rebuilding process, whereas Detroit is a little bit farther along. Can you talk about you rebuild and how you think it’s going?
Devin: The Kane signing has definitely skewed my thoughts on where the Red Wings are in their competitive cycle. Although management still places a heavy emphasis on drafting and developing the future core of this team, the sheer amount of veterans added to Detroit’s roster, combined with where they are in the standings at this point in the season, makes me think they have officially moved on from the “teardown” phase and are now firmly in the “playoff hopeful” category.
What’s most exciting about that is the sheer amount of quality prospects stashed away in the American Hockey League and overseas. Yzerman always talks about building a sustainable winner, and the steady flow of prospects the Red Wings should enjoy over the coming years will (hopefully) create just that – a sustainable winner.
Gail: I must say I’m jealous of the Red Wings advanced status in the rebuild. Sure, Chicago lucked into drafting Connor Bedard, and he alone should accelerate their rebuild. But it’s still a long road, and it requires patience. I’m hopeful Detroit enjoys playoff success sooner rather than later. Perhaps that will be something the Blackhawks can emulate.
Red Wings & Blackhawks Players to Watch
Q: Let’s get down to the contest between the Red Wings and the Blackhawks this Thursday. Besides DeBrincat, who should the Blackhawks be watching out for? Who’s been hot lately?
Devin: I mentioned Raymond above. The 21-year-old winger has a six-game point streak going (as of this writing), going back to before Detroit’s two games in Sweden. Now in his third NHL season, it looks like the 2020 fourth overall pick is on the verge of a breakout season.
Furthermore, in four games against the Blakchhawks, he has four goals and six points; his best points-per-game rate against any NHL opponent to this point in his young career.
And honorary mention goes to goaltender Alex Lyon, who seems to have stabilized what was a shaky goaltending situation in Detroit to start the season.
Gail: For the Blackhawks, one must always watch out for Bedard. The 2023 No. 1 overall pick is the real deal. He currently leads the team in goals (10) and points (17). His linemate, Philipp Kurashev has been on a bit of a roll lately as well. Before the last two contests, Kurashev was on a five-game point streak (two goals, four assists).
Beyond that, I’m going to say to watch out for the entire bottom-six! The third and fourth lines have led by example recently with hard work and physical play, and they even have some offensive production to show for it.
Red Wings vs. Blackhawks Matchup Predictions
Q: Finally, what are your predictions for the game, and the final score?
Devin: I think this contest will see some goals scored on both sides. The Red Wings will be on the second game of a back-to-back set as they face the New York Rangers Wednesday night before facing Chicago on Thursday. Mistakes will almost certainly be made, but I still like the team from the Motor City in this one. I’ll say the Red Wings win 4-3, Raymond gets a goal and an assist, and the commentators spend a lot of time talking about how Kane and DeBrincat will fare together in Detroit.
Gail: I’m with you Devin that this could be a high-scoring affair. Can the Blackhawks take advantage of some tired legs of the Red Wings? I don’t mean to be a downer, but the organization has been dealing with some off-ice issues of late. That could either turn into on-ice motivation, or the exact opposite. The Blackhawks channeled this adversity for a win this past Tuesday (Nov. 28) against the Seattle Kraken. If they can beat the Red Wings, it would be their first two consecutive wins of the season. I’m just not sure if they can pull it off.
I’m going to predict a close game, with the Blackhawks falling 5-3 in the end. But hey, I sure hope I’m wrong!
That does it for this crossover edition ahead of the Blackhawks and Red Wings game. Thank you to Devin for his input! Hopefully this contest will be a spirited affair and lots of fun for both fanbases.
May the best team win!