Blues fans consider this a rivalry. Maybe it's because the Hawks have a winning record against the Blues all-time, or maybe because it seems so difficult as of late for the Blues to win a season series against the Hawks, so it's a desire to beat up on the Blackhawks. Perhaps it's because we've all been geared to assume a geographic rivalry between all things St. Louis and Chicago - pizza, National League Baseball, and hockey.
I would mention the Rams and the Bears, but honestly, the Rams' biggest rival is themselves.
NBCSN would agree with us, since they've made tonight's game their Wednesday Night Rivalry game of the week. Of course, this is also the network that assumed that the Hawks and Wild(s) were rivals because of the Minnesota North Stars, so draw whatever conclusions from that which you'd like.
Brandon Bollig believes that this is a rivalry. Talking to Scott Powers of ESPN, he had this to say:
"I would say so, yeah," Bollig said after Monday's practice. "Obviously they're close, and we play them all the time. The way our two teams match up, they're always intense games. I would definitely say they're our biggest rival in the division now. I'm sure each and every game will be pretty exciting."
Keep in mind Bollig is from here, so he's probably been raised with the expectation of this being a rivalry. Patrick Kane, well, he thinks that their main rival are the Vancouver Canucks. It makes sense when you think about it. The Canucks and Blackhawks have more recent playoff history.
The Blues need to fix that. Regular season rivalries are fun, but it's the playoff rivalries that count.
St. Louis has allowed just two goals to start their first two games. The Blackhawks' goaltending has not been as lucky, though they're still off to a solid start. Brandon Saad has two goals and two assists, and Nicklas Hjalmarsson has three assists. Kane also has two goals to start the season.
These aren't the Predators. These aren't the Panthers. These are the guys who just won the Stanley Cup. If the Blues want to make a statement, a win tonight would go a long way to doing that. Is is possible? Of course. It's highly possible, especially if the Blues' power play continues to click and exploit the Hawks' league worst penalty kill.
There might be bigger post-season things on the line down the street tonight, but the Blues have a lot riding on this game as well. It's not about filling some "rivalry void" for the Blackhawks now that the Wings are gone. It's about keeping this traditional rivalry alive and meaningful, and some postseason battles would go a long way towards reminding Blackhawks fans (and players) why this rivalry is the best in the NHL.