The Chicago Blackhawks. Just What The NHL Needed
The video above is one of my favorite memories of The Streak.
They say all good things come to an end, and last night one good thing did as the Chicago Blackhawks and their historic streak came to a crashing halt at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche. The 2012-2013 NHL season started on January 19th, 2013 more than 100 days late due to a lockout which was the second we’ve seen in a decade. Irritated fans all across North America and Europe had been disgusted with the process, and needed something to rejuvenate their interest once the season began. Whether you’re a fan of the Blackhawks or not, they gave you that something. A modern day run in sports like no other that saw the Hawks have the best start in NHL history by reeling off points in 24 consecutive games. A record of 21-0-3, grabbing 45 out of a possible 48 points. The only other NHL team to have a better stretch was the 1978-1979 Philadelphia Flyers who during the season went 35 consecutive games without a loss going 25-0-10. The major difference during that era, was that there were no overtimes. When a game ended in a tie, it was over. It was still a tremendous accomplishment as well.
What the Blackhawks did for hockey however was similar to what Cal Ripken Jr did for Baseball back in 1995, when on September 6th of that year, Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak at 2,131 games. The streak which took Cal 14 years to break came on the heals of a major league baseball strike that lasted from August 22nd, 1994 to April 2nd, 1995. Similar to the NHL lockout of this season, thousands of fans walked away from the game of baseball never to return. For those that didn’t walk away, Ripken gave a reason to watch. There is no comparison to these two sports since they are so vastly different, but there is a comparison to the actual events, and what they’ve done respectively for their fans. Even ESPN the sports mega network that has virtually tossed the NHL aside, jumped on the bandwagon to include Blackhawks’ highlights on a nightly basis. Point being, is that this consecutive point streak caught everyone’s attention, and has almost made you forget there was a lockout.
The Blackhawks are a team that is laced with talent led by captain Jonathan Toews, the colorful Patrick Kane and the ever handsome Patrick Sharp. They are coached by Joel Quenneville a former player who’s scowl behind the bench is virtually the same whether the Hawks are winning or losing. The Hawks are a fun team to watch as they use their speed, skill and energy to play a puck possession style game forcing the opposition to chase them all night long. Every night during this streak it seemed that it was someone else who was the hero. When you’re going good, that’s what happens along the way with a few breaks here and there as well. Even more remarkable is that the Hawks began the season playing 10 of their first 12 games on the road, and their 11 game winning streak was the longest in the teams 86 year history.
Going into Colorado last night, many felt that this would be the game where it would end. Would it be the recent stretch of six games in nine nights, with injuries that saw them finish last nights game with only eight healthy forwards that did them in? Likely that combined with the lack of air in Denver just finally caught up with them. It was bound to happen sooner rather than later, and if you’re a Hawks fan you’d rather it happen last night than game seven of the Cup Final. Last night just wasn’t meant to be as Corey Crawford had his first clunker of the year, and the Hawks were out of step as passes were off, and the lack of sharpness was evident. Usually when a long winning streak ends, it ends badly. When the Flyers finally lost it was by a 7-1 score.
NHL.com has a recap of all the games in “The Streak” for you to relive momentarily. A short and yet to the point post game analysis by our friends at The Committed Indian gives you the blatant truth as they saw it. The streak now finally over, seemed to give games a playoff like atmosphere as each opponent was desperate to be the one to “break it”.
“It’s gained a lot of momentum over the last little while and our opponents, they treated it like it was a very important game,” Quenneville said. “You look at the standings and everyone has a meaningful game, but it seemed like there was added incentive as we’ve gone along. We welcomed the challenge.”
In the end, the Hawks still find themselves in terrific shape at this point in the season. With the best record in the league, the Hawks are eight points ahead of the Anaheim Ducks, who in their own right have only three regulation losses. They can finally move on and just concentrate on getting healthy, and playing hockey.
Whether you were for them or against them, you’d have to admit that your interest in hockey was intensified somehow because of it. You didn’t need to be a Hawk fan to want to know how they did each night they played. Fortunately or unfortunately for Steven Shucker, he’s missed the entire thing. Like him, I’m skeptical if he’ll survive a long playoff run.
This quote from Twitter last night puts this entire streak from beginning to end in perspective:
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