Just How Impressive Is the Chicago Blackhawks' Record-Tying Point Streak?
The Anaheim Ducks set the record during the 2006-07 season when they started 12-0-4 before losing to the Canucks 6-0 in their 17th game.
This is a remarkable accomplishment for Chicago, especially when you consider the fact that the team is on a historic run in a lockout-shortened season without a full training camp and preseason to prepare.
Coaches usually don't like to pat their teams on the back after setting regular-season records, but Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville gave his team some well-deserved praise Tuesday night (via Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times):
Quenneville on the record: "It's a remarkable start. We're very happy and pleased. Guys should be proud of the achievement." #Blackhawks— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 20, 2013
The Blackhawks' chance to set the all-time record of 17 games with no regulation losses will come Friday at the United Center against the San Jose Sharks, a team that Chicago has already beaten twice this season.
How impressive is the Blackhawks' record-tying feat? Let's look at an in-depth breakdown.
The Blackhawks are dominating the league in many statistical categories right now, and there are very few aspects of the game that the team isn't excelling at.
From an offensive standpoint, Chicago has been almost unstoppable this season. The team is tied for second with Anaheim in goals scored and has the 13th-best power play.
With that said, it's not surprising that the Blackhawks are the only team in the Western Conference that has four players who have scored 14 or more points this season (Patrick Kane, 20; Jonathan Toews, 15; Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa, 14 each).
Chicago's ability to jump out to an early lead is a key part of its success. The Blackhawks rank second in both first- and second-period goals scored, and they have a record of 10-0-2 when they lead going into the final 20 minutes. This team has also failed to score more than two goals in just five of its 16 games thus far.
The Blackhawks have been incredibly strong defensively this season as well. Chicago ranks second in goals against and third in penalty killing, which is a solid improvement from last season, when the team finished 22nd and 27th in those categories, respectively. The Blackhawks are also first in takeaways (166) and eighth in blocked shots (242).
Which team is the NHL's best?
Winning on the road has been one of the most impressive parts of the Blackhawks' success this season. The team has played 62.5 percent (10 of 16 games) of its schedule on the road, with a record of 8-0-2.
Last season, Chicago won just 18 road games, and it's quite possible that the Blackhawks will reach that mark in 2013, even with a 48-game schedule. The Pittsburgh Penguins are the only other team with eight road wins thus far.
Finally, the team's goaltending has been spectacular. Corey Crawford (7-0-3) and backup Ray Emery (6-0-0) have both exceeded expectations and are making key stops in the third period to prevent the Blackhawks from dropping points. The two veterans have a combined 1.95 GAA and a .930 save percentage.
Not only have the Blackhawks won games consistently to start the season, as the statistics show, but they have also been dominating teams in just about every aspect of the game.
Here is what the Blackhawks have accomplished already:
- Most games without a regulation loss to start a season in team history: 16 (previous was seven)
- Most games in a shortened season without a regulation loss: 16
- Most wins through 15 games in team history: 12
- Most wins to start a season in team history: 6
These are some notable records that Chicago is still chasing:
- Most games to start a season without a regulation loss: 17
- Most consecutive games without a regulation loss in a season: 35 by 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers
The Blackhawks have also earned a point in their last 22 games (16-0-6) dating back to last season, which is the longest streak since the Montreal Canadiens went 15-0-6 during the 1979-80 season.
Will Chicago win the Stanley Cup?
To break the record for the most consecutive games without a loss in regulation, the Blackhawks would need to earn a point in 36 of 48 games (75 percent of the entire schedule). That would be one of the most amazing feats in sports history.
Although it's not a record, it should also be pointed out that Corey Crawford's 3-0 shutout victory over the Nashville Predators on February 10 was the Blackhawks' first shutout in 101 games dating back to April 21, 2011.
2013 Blackhawks vs. Recent Stanley Cup Champions
The Blackhawks' fantastic start to the season has hockey fans in Chicago thinking about a Stanley Cup parade in June.
With arguably the most talent of any NHL team and a roster full of players with championship experience, the Blackhawks have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about their chances of winning a second title in four years.
Let's compare the Blackhawks' hot start with those of other recent champions through 16 games.
|2012||Los Angeles Kings||7-6-3|
|2008||Detroit Red Wings||13-2-1|
This has been an exciting two months in Chicago, which is one of the best hockey cities in the United States and the home of an Original Six team. However, if the Blackhawks do not win the Stanley Cup, the 2013 season will have been a failure after the team's hot start.
Fortunately for the Blackhawks, the previous three teams that started a season without losing in regulation through 14 games (1944 Canadiens, 1985 Oilers and 2007 Ducks) all lifted the Stanley Cup later that season.
Will Chicago extend that streak to four?
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. He was also a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals and 2012 NHL playoffs in Boston.
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