Blues-Blackhawks rivalry among the best

News-DemocratOctober 10, 2013 

— There's something special about hockey rivalries.

St. Louis Blues winger T.J. Oshie considers himself extremely fortunate to have been associated with great rivalries at the high school, collegiate and NHL level.

While playing high school hockey in Minnesota it was Warroad High vs. Roseau High for bragging rights and playoff supremacy. Once Oshie moved on to the University of North Dakota, the intense rivalry was always with the Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota.

Now with the Blues, Oshie can't get enough of the Blues-Blackhawks feud. He enjoyed watching the Blues-Blackhawks "NHL Rivals" special that aired Tuesday night on the NBC Sports Network.

"Just being a part of it is great," Oshie said.

The show featured plenty of fights, some great playoff matchups from the old Norris Division, former Chicago star Jeremy Roenick losing a lot of teeth and goaltender Eddie Belfour famously breaking his stick over the crossbar in disgust over a goal that clinched a playoff series for the Blues.

"You see those old clips and it really fires you up," Oshie said. "You really get to see the intensity and the legacy of the players before you. It just makes you want to be a part of that and want your team to win even more."

Also adding fuel to the rivalry fire is the fact that the Blues and Blackhawks met eight times in the playoffs from 1980 to 1993. The team haven't met in the postseason since 2002 and Chicago has won seven of the 10 playoff series between the clubs.

What did Oshie notice the most about the old-school Blues-Blackhawks games on the documentary?

"Just the playoff series, the look on both teams faces when the other team won," he said. "Just how intense that was and how much it meant to them to beat those rivalry teams."

Don't think the Blues haven't noticed those two Stanley Cups won recently by their nearby NHL neighbors.

"I'm not certain on what the ingredient is or if it's anything magical you can put your finger on," Blues captain David Backes said. "But it's a group of guys that just binds together and says 'This is our time' in the playoffs and gets the job done.

"We've learned some tough lessons here in the last two years in the playoffs -- and from those lessons we've grown."

With many years of service in the Western Conference, Blues winger Brenden Morrow has watched the growth of the Blackhawks firsthand.

"They went through their growing pains, had a few years where not much was happening," Morrow said. "They did get those draft picks and they grew their talent, made some additions here and there and now they're right near the top every year.

"They're a competitive team and they've found something that's working for them right now."

They are the champions

Chicago is trying to become the first team to win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships since Detroit in 1997 and 1998.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock says the Blackhawks present a lot of problems

"We have a problem when we play them, they just don't give us the puck," Hitchcock said. "It's an issue. They're the best team in the league, they stretch out your defense. Our style of play only works when we hem them in.

"If we don't hem them in, then our style doesn't work."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or on Twitter @NormSanders

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