In a shortened NHL season, each game holds more importance than usual. Seventeen games into the 2012/13 campaign, the Chicago Blackhawks remain undefeated in regulation.
The Blackhawks set an NHL record for the best start to a season by defeating the San Jose Sharks 2–1 on Friday. The win made the Blackhawks’ record 14 for the season, but more importantly, it extended the Blackhawks’ streak of consecutive games by at least one point to an NHL-record 17 games.
Over the span of those games, the Blackhawks have collected 31 of a possible 34 points; the next-best team in the Central Division has 21 points in one more game played.
The achievement did not come easy, and looked to be in jeopardy against San Jose after Patrick Marleau scored in the first period to give the Sharks a 1–0 lead, but in typical Blackhawks fashion they stormed right back for the equalizer in the second period courtesy of Viktor Stalberg, and took the lead for good on a shorthanded tally from rookie forward Brandon Saad in the third period.
“It’s exciting to watch the Blackhawks this season; they look like a team on a mission,” said John Stevens, a fourth-year UTM life sciences student and Blackhawks fan. “This streak is good not only for the Blackhawks, but the NHL as a whole; it draws interest to the sport. Everyone loves to watch a dominant team—just look at the Miami Heat of the NBA.”
Afnan Azam, a first-year accounting student, also commented on the Blackhawks’ record. “It’s hard to believe that any team could go 17 consecutive games without a regulation loss in a shortened season with the tough travel schedule, but the Hawks have done just that, and it is credit to the team and coaching staff,” he said. “That is a team to be reckoned with.”
The Blackhawks are indeed a team to be reckoned with. The club has four forwards in the top 50 NHL scorers (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp), and three defencemen in the top 60 at their position (Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Nick Leddy). Even netminder Corey Crawford is having a breakout year, ranking in the top 10 in save percentage (.935), goals against average (1.65), and wins (seven) among goaltenders.
Prior to the Blackhawks’ streak, the best start to a season belonged to the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. That year, the Ducks played 16 consecutive games with at least one point. Before that, the 1985 Oilers held the record with 15. Each team went on to win a Stanley Cup in their season.