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Playoff series pushes Blackhawks-Blues rivalry to a new level

Blackhawks defenseman Viktor Svedberg fights with Blues forward Kyle Brodziak in in the first period of Game 3 of the Hawks-Blues playoff series last Sunday at the United Center. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

ST. LOUIS — It’s a rivalry now.

Actually, the Blackhawks and Blues have had a rivalry for years. But with four one-goal games heading into Game 5 on Thursday night, Corey Crawford going bonkers on Robby Fabbri, Vladimir Tarasenko’s sharpshooting and Andrew Shaw being Andrew Shaw, the Hawks and Blues have taken their rivalry to a new level.

Even the Cubs and Cardinals playing a three-game series at Busch Stadium this week seems to have played a part. The Hawks and Blues will play at Busch next season on Jan. 2 in the Winter Classic.

“They’ve done a good job for the most part of staying out of the after-the-whistle stuff and playing a hard game,” Hawks forward Patrick Kane said. “But whether it’s the St. Louis fans or the Chicago fans or us against the Blues, you can definitely see a rivalry growing here.

“I think it’s great. In the past you could say Detroit was our No. 1 rival, but that’s probably kind of faded away since they moved to the [Eastern Conference]. You see it growing with St. Louis because they are in our division. We’ve had a couple of playoff series against them. There’s some hatred and animosity there between the two cities, the fans,players, whatever you want to say. It’s definitely grown.”

Life without Shaw

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville had no quarrel with Andrew Shaw’s one-game suspension for uttering a homophobic slur in Game 4.

“We’ll accept it, learn from it and deal with it,” Quenneville said.

Quenneville was hopeful the Hawks would emulate Shaw’s playing style, which has been particularly effective in the series — two goals and two assists.

“Shawzy did some good things individually and that’s a lesson we can take as a team — there’s a reward to get where you need to get to the net to be successful in a game.”

Weise back in

Forward Dale Weise was expected back in the lineup for Game 5 — on the fourth line with center Andrew Desjardins and winger Brandon Mashinter. It’s been a tough go for Weise, who was a healthy scratch for Games 1, 2 and 4. He was determined to make an impact despite the tough circumstances.

“When you’re in and out of the lineup it’s tough to get in a rhythm,” Weise said. “But I think the playoffs is such a different animal. The enthusiasm and excitement is a [greater] when you get back in the lineup as opposed to a regular season game. I’m confident in my abilities that I can make a difference.”

Welcome back

Quenneville said defenseman David Rundblad, who had not played for the Hawks since Dec. 13 against the Canucks, would play in  Game 5, likely in place of veteran Michal Rozsival.

Rundblad played in five games in last year’s playoffs after Rozsival suffered a broken ankle in the second round against the Wild. He did not score in three games of the conference final against the Ducks but was a  plus-2 in Games 1-2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Lightning.

Andrew who?

Shaw’s absence didn’t have much impact for Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.

“We don’t even look at their lineup to be honest with you,” Hitchcock said. “We look at those two centers [Jonathan Toews and Artem Anisimov], know what they bring. I look at those two top lines, it doesn’t matter. We know how close they are to scoring and we have to do a better job to negate some of their chances if we expect to win [Game 5].” 

The 3-1 challenge

Of the 277 teams trailing 3-1 in a best-of-seven series in the NHL, only 28 have come back to win the series, according to puckreport.com. The Hawks had the additional challenge of having to win twice on the road.

But five of the last seven teams to rally from 3-1 deficits did it the hard way, most recently in 2014, by the Rangers (over the Penguins) and Kings (over the Sharks).