Sunday's Game Against Hawks Will Be Red Wings' Biggest Test of The Season

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst IDecember 18, 2009

DETROIT - MAY 27:  Darren Helm #43 of the Detroit Red Wings looks down ice along with Colin Fraser #46 of the Chicago Blackhawks during Game Five of the Western Conference Championship Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 27, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Red Wings won 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

I don't know about you, but when the NHL released the 2009-2010 schedule, the first games I highlighted were those between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.

For many reasons, I figured each and every one of these six games was bound to be a classic.

Marian Hossa, facing his former team, a rematch between the Western Conference Finalists, the old lion Red Wings being challenged by the young lion Blackhawks; these games would have it all.

These were to be a true clash of Western Conference titans.

This is what we saw in the first and to this point, only game of the season between these two teams.

Detroit won 3-2, but naturally, lost power-forward Johan Franzen to an ACL tear which will cost him most of the season.

Now, looking ahead to Sunday's game, the story reads more like David versus Goliath, with the Red Wings playing the former role.

Underdog status isn't something Detroit has faced in a very long time, but damn if that's not just what they'll be when they square of against the Blackhawks at the United Center.

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The UC has got to be an intimidating place to play if you're the visiting team.

Even attending a game as a visiting fan is a daunting prospect, as the Blackhawk faithful are not at all shy about suggesting that you remove your Red Wings' jersey and then telling you where you can (repeatedly) shove it.

When the Wings take the ice on Sunday, they might have some idea about how those Roman gladiators felt when they stepped into the Coliseum.

The spectators in the stands will be vicious, blood thirsty, and hungry for annihilation.

And honestly, why not?

After years of failure, mismanagement, and city-wide apathy, the Chicago Blackhawks represent The Second City's most immediate and realistic hope of a championship.

These fans were starving for a contender for so many years and are now gorging themselves on one dominating win after another.

As the Red Wings have been for so many years, the Blackhawks are superbly coached, jam packed with offensive talent, and sport the best defense in the entire league.

With a full, healthy roster, you still better be living right if you plan on beating the Hawks.

As Detroit will come into Sunday's action missing eight regulars, now with leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg among the wounded. To say the odds are against them, is a colossal understatement.

Additionally, the Red Wings will be in action Saturday against Dallas, while Chicago will have the day off.

All things considered, Sunday's game will present the Red Wings with their biggest test of the season.

If the Wings with their patchwork roster can find a way to win this game, it may very well be the beginning of their road back towards the top of the conference.

You see, no one beats the Blackhawks by accident.

If they're able to walk away with two points, the Red Wings will have proven that despite their injuries, they are a team that is capable of raising their game to a level above that of the sum of it's parts.

This achieved, there's no reason they won't be able to maintain this level of play long enough to allow the multitude of injured players to return to a team on the rise, rather than one waiting for someone to save them.

If the Blackhawks are looking at it as a game simply waiting to be won, they wouldn't be off base. All signs point to this one being two points in the bank for Chicago.

However, if they lose, they and the rest of the NHL, will be on notice that underdogs though they may be, the Detroit Red Wings are still a team to be reckoned with in the future.

Make no mistake about it, this game is huge for the Red Wings.