Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Seek a Payback in Detroit Rematch Has Feel of a Bygone Time

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Seek a Payback in Detroit Rematch Has Feel of a Bygone Time

Article excerpt

The Blues get a taste of old-time hockey tonight in Detroit.

For the Blues, this 6:30 game completes a throwback home-and-home series with the Red Wings, albeit one separated by more than 72 hours. The Wings won 4-1 Saturday afternoon at Kiel Center.

In the good old days, the rematch would have come the next day in Detroit. Instead, the Wings returned Sunday to Joe Louis Arena to face Dallas, beating the Stars 4-3 in overtime as coach Scotty Bowman picked up his 999th career victory - leaving him in search of No. 1,000 tonight at home. Bowman, the career wins leader who began his NHL career in St. Louis in 1967, is 999-451-254 in 25 seasons. Interludes in the schedule happen when the schedule maker has to deal with 26 teams. Things were different way back six years ago in the era of the Original 21. Those were the politically incorrect days, when women goalies still were unwelcome in NHL training camps. Back then, divisional play was the ticket to the playoffs. Teams slugged it out seven or eight times per season with their fraternity brothers in the Adams, Norris, Patrick or Smythe divisions. Rivals played home-and-home games on consecutive nights. Familiarity bred contempt, not to mention short memories of cheap shots and points lost. Now, Stanley Cup playoff berths hinge on rankings within the conference. Former Norris Division sparring partners such as the Blues and Red Wings crack helmets just five times this season - none in the first four months. Detroit has 57 points and is third overall in the Western Conference; the Blues have 54 points and are fifth. The top eight teams in the conference qualify for the playoffs. "It's kind of strange nowadays in hockey," Detroit winger Brendan Shanahan said. "You lose that divisional feel when you play so many teams in the conference so much." Shanahan, who had two killer goals against his former team Saturday, said of the pseudo back-to-back series: "It's emotional. Players like it. There's never any problem getting up for division rivalries. "And I know the rivalry that exists between these two teams, playing in this division for so long. It's kind of flip-flopped now for me. …

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