No song, no chance for Blackhawks in Chicago

DETROIT — For the Detroit Red Wings, the less they hear “Chelsea Dagger” over the next couple weeks, the better.

The song, performed by “The Fratellis”, is blared at the United Center in Chicago every time the Blackhawks score a goal.

Some opponents might despise the catchy tune for obvious reasons, but not Henrik Zetterberg.

“It is a good song,” the Red Wings’ captain said. “But you wish you would hear it in different circumstances.”

Theme songs aside, Zetterberg has witnessed quite a transformation in the atmosphere at the United Center during his 10 seasons in the NHL.

The Blackhawks have created one of the league’s best home-ice advantages in recent years.

“The first couple years I was here, we basically had more fans in there than they did,” Zetterberg said. “The last few years, it’s loud. It’s a lot of fun to play in that building.”

Zetterberg and the Red Wings will have the odds stacked against them when they open a playoff series Wednesday night in Chicago.

The Blackhawks are the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed, with the best record in the NHL, while the Wings are No. 7 after having to fight until the final day of the regular season before clinching a playoff berth.

The teams played four times during the season. Chicago won each one, including a 7-1 blowout on Easter in Detroit.

Chicago has arguably the deepest, most-talented team in the league. Detroit is a prohibitive underdog, and rightfully so.

The Red Wings, however, do have one factor in their favor — they’re much more “battle tested” in these playoffs after overcoming considerable adversity to win the final two games of a back-and-forth opening-round series against the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks.

The Blackhawks cruised past the Minnesota Wild in five games, winning easily despite not getting a goal from either Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane, their top two scorers.

“We’re a group that’s come a long way,” Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader said. “A lot of people doubted us in the first round and will doubt us in the second round here. We’re the underdogs for sure.

“But we know what kind of group we have and what can be done if we stick to the game plan.”

The Red Wings are clearly a different team than the one that got humiliated on their home ice by the Blackhawks back on the final day of March.

Rookies such as Joakim Andersson, Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist are better because of their playoff experiences.

The entire group got a little tougher by winning its final four regular-season games and their round-one comeback vs. Anaheim.

“I think we’ve learned a lot about ourselves over the last stretch of the season, how well we played just to get into the playoffs and then how well we played against the Ducks,” goalie Jimmy Howard said.

“It’s a team that may not be as talented as some of the teams we’ve had here in the past, but it’s a team that works extremely hard. When you have that, you can be a tough team to beat.”

What gets overlooked sometimes in the Detroit-Chicago regular-season series is that two of the losses were in shootouts and another came in overtime.

Detroit got a point out of both trips to the United Center.

So the series was far from lopsided despite the memorable Easter flogging.

“If people didn’t remind me, I wouldn’t know we didn’t win any of the games,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “To me, we played them real well with the exception of the one.

“But the series speaks for itself. They won all four games. From the outside looking in, they’re the best in the West, won the Presidents’ Trophy.

“They’re a good team. We’re really excited about our opportunity.”

Babcock is as impressed as anyone with the Blackhawks’ seemingly unlimited supply of weapons, especially in a salary-cap era, where it’s difficult to stockpile talent anymore.

That depth easily could expose the Wings’ third and fourth lines.

“If our kids play as well as they did last series,” Babcock said, “it won’t be an issue.”

If they don’t, they’re going to have to hear that dreaded song over and over and over.