NHL on NBC: Blackhawks, Red Wings continue rivalry

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The Detroit Red Wings showed some subtle toughness going 5-3-0 while playing seven of their last eight games on the road, which would probably make Gordie Howe proud. That’s a good thing, too, because the team will celebrate Mr. Hockey’s 85th birthday as they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

Jimmy Howard discussed the team’s 3-1-0 road trip with the Detroit Free Press.

“I think we’re not getting rattled out there,” Howard said. “If stuff isn’t going our way, we stay the course. That’s a good thing, because once playoffs come, it’s not going to go your way every single night and you’ve got to find that even keel out there.

“I think it was a good trip. We’re on the right path. We’ve been playing really well away from the Joe, and that’s a good sign.”

While the Red Wings try to maintain that momentum, the Blackhawks aim to capture the magic from the historic streak that they were able to maintain the last time they faced Detroit on national TV.

“We’re just going to try to find our game again, the way we did during the streak. The way we played team defense there, we haven’t been doing that the last couple games,” Niklas Hjalmarsson told CSNChicago.com. “(It’s about) playing simple, not trying to do too much. Things have been going pretty easy so far with our streak and all of that. You need some ups and downs in a season. You have to learn from it as a team. That’s what we have to do.”

Both squads remain a little banged up.

Chicago will probably be without Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa for another game while Detroit seems likely to exchange Mikael Samuelsson for Johan Franzen in the lineup (along with having guys like Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm out).

Overall, it seems like the two teams are subtly turning in different directions compared to where they seemed headed a month ago, but this storied rivalry brings out the best in both franchises. You can see the latest battle on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.