Chicago Blackhawks' Point Streak Ends: What Loss Means for Rest of NHL

Mark Jones@@CanesReportSenior Analyst IMarch 9, 2013

Twenty-four times it was attempted to no avail.

Twenty-four times did the Chicago Blackhawks begin a brand new hockey game and skate away 60 minutes later with at least a point.

That is, until Friday night. The 9-10-4 Colorado Avalanche, of all teams, took on the 'Hawks for their second meeting in three days, scored four goals in the second period and ended one of the most incredible streaks in modern sports history.

And so the loss column is now, at long last, fully populated. From Chicago's one regulation defeat to Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia's 13, every team can now be compared mathematically without calculations ending in zero or infinite.

The Anaheim Ducks, at 17-3-3, actually trail the Blackhawks for the Western Conference lead by just eight points with two games in hand.

The Detroit Red Wings, who have already lost twice in their heated rivalry with Chicago, fall 17 points behind the Central Division lead.

Behind them are the St. Louis Blues, 19 points short of the 'Hawks total to date but with one fewer game played. The Nashville Predators, going for their fourth consecutive postseason appearance, crushed Edmonton 6-0 Friday evening to pull 20 points behind Chicago.

But, realistically, those numbers aren't even worth mentioning.

Regardless of how many more times the 'Hawks lose in their final 23 matches of this lockout-shortened year, their regular season has become, in essence, a very drawn-out preseason for one of the most highly anticipated playoffs in NHL history.

The Blackhawks' playoff chances still stand at a rather decisive 100.0 percent, according to SportsClubStats.com formulas.

Their Presidents' Trophy odds have now slid to a still-incredible 85.3 percent. Their odds at the West's No. 1 overall seed check in at 89.2 percent.

For Patrick Kane & Co., the rest of the regular season is a strange sort of mini-game now. They would probably enjoy it if real life suddenly became NHL13—sitting back, holding that "simulate" button and making sure no star players get injured.

It's like leading a game 7-0 but still having to bother with the third period.

So what does the Blackhawks' stumble mean for the other 29 lowly franchises of the National Hockey League?

In truth, not much.

Every over-the-top reporter will likely try to convince the hockey universe otherwise, and, for many fans, Friday's shocking upset may well be the headline of the weekend.

The Miami Heat, too, will be particularly pleased.

However, this race is over. The Blackhawks are already undisputed kings of the regular season; whether they finish the year 44-1-3 or, as is probably a safer bet, 37-7-4 is of little matter.

The rest of the league has 15 other playoff spots to fight, scramble and claw for. For the next eight weeks, that's the storyline that at least 29 teams will be solely focused on.

Only then come the playoffs.

Only then comes the Blackhawks' return to, in all reality, relevancy.

Only then do their losses really start to matter again.

 

Mark Jones has been a Bleacher Report featured columnist since 2009, receiving almost a million views on his 450-plus articles to date. 

Visit his profile to read more, or follow him on Twitter.

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