The relationship between the Cardinals and Cubs is a cherished and celebrated rivalry, but let’s be genuine.
The Cubs have not won a pennant since 1945, have not won a World Series since 1908. The essence of the rivalry is ceremonial, a St. Louis tradition as soft as Ted Drewes, as fanciful as the Muny.

The relationship between the Blues and Blackhawks is founded on the same 300-mile stretch of I-55. But its texture is a bit more coarse, its presentation more provocative. There have been many moments over the years to certify that contentious character. And there promises to be another tonight.

The Blues host the Blackhawks on a weeknight in February that might otherwise seem unremarkable. But the circumstances and associations surrounding the event are bursting with flavor, making it one of their most anticipated meetings in some time.

Through a magical combination of performance and phenomenon, the Blackhawks are 19 games into the season without a regulation loss. Chicago has earned points in each of its games, while three shootout losses represent the only blemishes. Thirteen of the games have been one-goal decisions; 10 of the first 12 were road games.

Approaching the midway point of a season 48 games long, the sports world is screaming, “Break up the Blackhawks.” Tonight, an old adversary takes a shot.

“Winning is a feeling. When you have the right feeling going, you win all the close games,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “You get the goal at the end, you win in overtime, you win in the shootouts. They got the feeling going right now and somebody is going to have to break the feeling, and it might as well be us.”

Chicago’s sprint is unique, but it has a way to go to match or exceed the sensational streak of the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers. That team played 35 consecutive games without a loss, back when the NHL was a win, lose or tie league. The 1979-80 Flyers lost the second game of the season Oct. 13 and did not lose again until Jan. 7. There were 10 ties along the way.