This one is probably most likely to get it started on day one. It’s a unique situation with such a set of circumstances never falling into place for as long as I can remember (granted I can’t remember too far back but still!). I don’t know of any other situation where teams were total strangers one season, and at each other’s throats the next.
There’s so many reasons this one is going to boil over, I hardly know where to begin. I suppose it started when the new realignment, putting Ottawa and Detroit in the same division. Already, games between these two are going to mean that much more, and a showdown between these two will always have a direct impact on who goes to the playoffs and who potentially doesn’t (you have to figure they’re both strong cases for playoffs this year). This was further exacerbated when Ottawa’s captain Daniel Alfredsson chose not to resign with the only team he had even known and sign instead with Detroit. Gasoline was added to this rivalry concoction when Alfredsson said in so many words that one of the reasons he choose to jump ships was that he felt Detroit had a better chance at winning the cup than Ottawa, something he soon regretted saying.
Enter Eugene Melnyk, Ottawa Senators owner known for opening his mouth at times he probably shouldn’t. Melnyk went to a press conference after the Alfredsson departure/abandonment, saying among other things that Detroit would finish behind Ottawa in the standings. The very idea that an owner would start talking smack before the puck even drops for the season, much less before the two teams face each other, is positively salivating. If you’re a fan of either team at this point, you’re already looking forward to these two teams throwing down.
Add into the mix the fact that these two American goalies will probably get to know each other rather well as the Olympics draw near, the fact that a goon like Chris Neil plays for Ottawa, and how both teams should be relatively well matched and this is a recipe for both disaster and must watch games. How long will it be before Jason Spezza yaps at Daniel Alfredsson, something he’s always wanted to do in my fantasy of this match up? Realistically, one big injury or a long slump and one of these teams aren’t as good, and there goes the rivalry for this year. But never mind that, October 23rd is going to be intense!
The above was a description of what probably will happen. What follows, is a description of what I desperately want to happen.
I will again admit that I may have some bias here given that my girlfriend is a Penguins fan. The pens have gotten my blood pumping since these two teams met for back-to-back Stanley cup show downs in 2008 and 2009 (which you may recall Detroit won 2008 in 6 games, as where the Penguin’s victory in 2009 took 7 games). The competition may have stopped there but it went on and on for the fans. Well, at least the ones that pester me.
Given that these two are back in the same conference, it’s time to throw down! Sure they aren’t in the division but as I mentioned before, this works for the Avalanche and as I mentioned earlier, potentially the Blue Jackets. Watching Crosby be stalked by Zetterberg again is going to make for some great hockey again, and I’ll look forward to seeing it happen outside a Stanley cup match up. Between Malkin and Datsyuk, who’s the better Russian NHL star? This is a great way to find out! Lemieux can talk about taking his puck and going home when Kronwall leaves the ice before after hitting someone. I love everything about this potentially happening and I want it, nay… I need it to happen more than anything else I just listed!
Who do you think will be the Wings’ biggest rival going forward? Did I miss someone? Let us know in the comments below!