When running down the list of the most intense NHL rivalries, there are a few that immediately come to mind. Whether it’s the Chicago Blackhawks’ long-standing feud with the Detroit Red Wings, the often-violent clashes between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, or the Original Six battles waged between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins, there are plenty of teams with plenty of enemies in this league, and the vitriol between the sides is very well.
It may not get the amount of attention that rivalries like the Battle of Alberta (Flames/Oilers) get, but the rivalry between the Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues has historically been just as heated and hard-fought as any of the others. The teams have played 330 times between regular season and playoff battles, with the Blackhawks holding the edge in victories at 163-125. Those regular season games, especially in the early 1990’s, tended to be violent affairs, and the infamous St. Patrick’s Day Massacre game in 1991 was one of the most legendary:
That battle personified the heated pitch the rivalry took during a decade stretch that saw the two teams tangle in the playoffs five times in a six year span. The Blues drew first blood winning in the Norris Division semi-finals in 1988, but the Blackhawks struck back to win three series in a row by a combined margin of 12-6. The Blues got the last laugh in the 1993 divisional semi-finals, sweeping the Blackhawks 4-0. It was that series that caused Chicago goaltender Ed Belfour to go on his infamous smashing spree as he destroyed a television and a hot tub in the visiting dressing room, but despite the anger hitting its peak, the rivalry subsided a bit as the two teams would go nine years without a playoff matchup.
The two teams would finally meet again in 2002, but the result was just about the same as the Blues won the series four games to one. The Blackhawks drew first blood with a 2-1 win in Game 1, but the Blues swept the remaining games, including back to back shutout wins at the United Center. The Blues would end up going on to lose in the second round to the Red Wings, as they cruised to their third Stanley Cup title in six seasons.
Both teams went through lean spells during the early part of the new millennium, but the long and storied rivalry is finally heating back up again as both sides are looking to have a prolonged run of excellence. The Hawks certainly have had the better of the exchange in recent years, winning two Stanley Cups, but the Blues are knocking on the door as they’ve established a team identity reminiscent of that group from the early 1990’s, which was led by antagonists like Al MacInnis and goal scorers like Brett Hull.
Whether or not they will have the same success against the Blackhawks as that group remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: these two teams do not like each other, and there is plenty of reason to suspect that this chapter in their storied rivalry will be just as intense as any of the others.