It was bound to happen. The Chicago Blackhawks ended their season-starting points streak at 24 consecutive games, in a blowout loss to Colorado on March 8.
Fans and admirers were on the edge of their seat to see if Chicago could keep their record going, but even the hottest of teams have their bad days and make careless errors.
When this season started on January 19 after the lockout ended, the Blackhawks faced the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings and won 5-2, beginning the streak.
If the lockout hadn’t happened earlier this year, would they have even come as far as the remarkable number they accomplished?
Judging by their previous records, the answer is no. If you look back to the start of last season season, they lost their first game, and in the first month they earned a 7-4 record. The previous two seasons before this saw them go 7-6 and 8-5, playing a normal, full schedule against both conferences.
The Blackhawks wouldn’t have this record if the lockout hadn’t happened because they are not playing against tougher Eastern Conference teams. The lockout impeded the season so much that games had to be scheduled within each team’s conference.
Feasting on a plethora of weaker teams, much like the Miami Heat of the NBA are doing with their current streak, the Blackhawks used this as a launching pad to the best season start in league history.
Eastern Conference teams are notoriously harder to beat, such as the NY Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins, who consistently bring their best game and make the playoffs. Keeping a 24-game points streak going against lineups like those mentioned would have been possible, but extremely difficult.
If losing their first game against Colorado wasn’t devastating enough, they lost the following game to the Edmonton Oilers 6-5, their first losing streak of the season. They have already started out on a new streak, winning three games in a row by blowing out their opponents, including an 8-1 trouncing of the Dallas Stars on March 16.
Sure, their amazing record wouldn’t be set if it wasn’t for the lockout, but regardless, they set a record that has only been outdone by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1979-1980, with a record of 35 consecutive games won in regulation.
Line consistency was a key aspect of their success. Players mention that line consistency is a big part in playing the game and once you get one goal through the net adrenaline kicks in, and that’s definitely something we saw with Chicago’s success.
Without some luck that saw them come back in multiple games with minutes left, or heading to overtime or shootouts, the Blackhawks wouldn’t be in this conversation. Throughout the 27 games, the Blackhawks went past regulation 10 times, including six shootouts.
The Blackhawks still succeeded in a tremendous historical, record-high moment that will be talked about in the NHL for a long time to come, but would have never happened for them any other year.