It is clearly a big game. And an indicator of how the two teams stack up.
Personally, I don't think Canuck fans overestimate the importance of this game any more so than (smug) Red Wings fans try to downplay the impending loss (let's face it the home streak will end eventually). It is a big game, no two ways about it. By pointing out the obvious, that there are only two points at stake, you are not taking away from the fact that the outcome will also impact the season series and potential the ROW stat. Not too mention it is a clash of two of the NHL's flagship franchises.
While it is popular to crap on Vancouver, the team and its fans lately, I'd challenge any Wings fans on hockey knowledge and/or love of the game. There is any entire generation of Wings fans who have never experienced a losing season. Show me a fan who has watched all 82 of a team that finished out of the playoffs and I'll show you a hardcore Wings fan. So that means unless you're over 30 you're pretty much out.
It's easy to be a Wings fan because they have an excellent team and organization. But, from an outside fan's perspective that is obviously pure luck.
Anyways, I'm a fan of both teams and have always had a great deal of time for current and former Wings, especially Yzerman, Lidstrom and Larionov. Because they were/are great players and great people. You'd never catch them taking unsolicited shots at their competitors, unlike certain current players, media and fans (hello Bollard, Marchand...). Unfortunately, it seems the unreasonable and irrational distain for Vancouver has leaked into the usually civil Wings fanbase.
They've played each other three times already this season!
It may be important to (the generally condescending) Vancouver fans. Just being honest when saying I don't think most Wings fans don't see it as that big of a deal. It's one game in the season. That's not smug. The Wings haven't made it out of the second round in a couple years now. It's not that they dont' have anything to prove. It's just that they have to beat whoever is in front of them, whether it's the Preds, Nucks, Sharks... whoever.
Honestly a Sharks game is a bigger deal because they are the team that's eliminated the Wings two years running now.
As for being popular to crap on Vancouver, the players and fans bring that on themselves. The Canucks used to be one of my favorite teams in the early to mid 90s. My recent disdain for them comes comes from personal experience in real life at games combined with the idiots over at hfboards. Last year they basically made that place intolerable. And at games they made Philly fans look good natured.
As for the actual team, they still have some players I like, but I can't get past all the diving that team does. The Sharks Nucks series was ridiculous, especially compared to Boston Tampa. Add to it garbage like finger biting, and they're just not a team I want to see win.
But hey if you want to ignore the prior three games this season and build this one up to be something it's not, so be it.