Burgundy Linings Playbook

Doug Pensinger

The Avalanche and Blackhawks are starting to develop a relationship. It could be long-term.

The Colorado Avalanche slayed a red-hot Chicago Blackhawks team last night. On paper, that's nothing more than two points in the win column for us and a cracked goose egg for them. But could this spell the beginning of an epic rivalry?

There is no reason why it can't.

Chicago is obviously a level or twelve above the Avs, so an immediate competitive feud is out of question. But anybody who's seen an Avs-Hawks game in the past knows what's in store. They have a penchant for being high-paced, high-scoring and, most importantly, score-tight affairs - not too dissimilar from the Pittsburgh-Philly showdowns that frequent the Atlantic Division.

With a conference realignment practically set in stone, the teams will meet each other more times each year and will have more to fight for. More jump. More goals. More everything.

And both teams have the recipe to make it last. With a recent Stanley Cup under their belts, the Hawks are still remarkably young. Under 26-years of age, there is Patrick Kane (24), Brandon Saad (20), Jonathan Toews (24), Nick Leddy (21) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (25). And that's ignoring their talented slew of system players. Oppositely, the Avs are also primed for long-term success with Matt Duchene (22), Gabe Landeskog (20), Jamie McGinn (24), Ryan O'Reilly (22), Tyson Barrie (21), Erik Johnson (24) and Semyon Varlamov (24) all still growing their beards.

Yet and still, Chicago fans have always had a friendly relationship with us burgundy loyals (In fact, go check out Second City Hockey - quality stuff over there with a vibrant bunch to go alongside). A few years ago us Avs fans voted the Chicago Blackhawks as our second favorite NHL team in a MHH FanPost. Hell, this could shape up to be the friendliest rivalry in sports, but not so fast.

After Gabe Landeskog's alleged cheap shot on defensive stalwart Duncan Keith, Hawks fans have been up in arms. Explicit comments like this one - which received six recs by the way - littered SCH's third period thread: "Uh Landeskog just got an elbow in Keith's head. And put his fist in Bickell's face. Coming from a guy who just came back from a concussion? Fuck you. And if anyone can fucking rationalize that then fuck you." Don't worry, SCH, not calling you out - we talk like that too ...a lot.

But wait, what exactly happened to cause this uproar? Nothing headlining. Just your run-of-the-mill scrap complete with a healthy pinch of controversy. Here's the footage.

Brian Bickell vs Landeskog scrum in 3rd Mar 8 2013 . Chicago Blackhawks vs Colorado Avalanche NHL (via GoalsPage)

For those who can't watch it, here's what happens: Landy loses balance. Tries to get up but Keith doesn't let it happen. Annoyed, Landy gets up and lightly crosschecks him from behind. (Contrary to what appears, a different angle will later show that Keith does not fall.) Bickell instigates Landy. Landy wants no part. A hoard of players from both teams come storming in and a rough scrum ensues (which includes knocks all around, including a quick one to Landy's head). Refs break it up, scrum over. (Just to quickly mention, Avs fans weren't too happy about Chicago's own captain, Toews, whacking Varly earlier on in the game).

Really just some good ol' fashioned hockey heat that we see every other game. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Hits and scrums aside, these are two very exciting teams who are about to learn a whole lot more about each other in the coming years. In fact, the Avs host the Blackhawks once again in just nine days. That game will be very interesting. The NHL marketing team clearly doesn't shy away from milking it, having already labeled the match-ups under their televised "rivalry" slot.

The Colorado-Chicago Clash? The Mile High-Windy Battle? The Stop-Playing-Chelsea-Dagger?

Not right now. But something to think about.

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