Respect the Streak

By: Miranda Martin

It’s hard not to talk about the Chicago Blackhawks right now.

Literally everyone in the hockey world is talking about it. The streak surpassed the NBA and was the top story on ESPN’s SportsCenter… and talked about it for seven full minutes. Every NHL fan knows just how rare that is. Hell, LeBron James, whose NBA team Miami Heat is on a 15 game win streak, tweeted how awesome the Blackhawks are right now, getting thousands of people who don’t even follow hockey talking about the Blackhawks.

All fanbases and rivalries aside: We’re witnessing history right now.

This 21-0-3 start by the Blackhawks is truly rare. Kevin Allen, hockey reporter for USA Today, corresponded with mathematician Richard Cleary of Bentley University in Massachusetts to see just how rare, and guys… this isn’t just a once in a lifetime event. This start is a “once in 700 years” event… The Canucks, Blues, and Leafs actually could win a cup before this ever happens again.

The Chicago Blackhawks have gone half of a season without a regulation loss. Think about that for a second. Their current 11-game win streak broke their franchise record, so over the last 85 years, the Blackhawks have never experienced something like this. Both goaltender Corey Crawford and Ray Emery have registered more wins than the Nashville Predators… as well as 11 other teams. Ray Emery last night became the first goaltender in NHL history to win his first ten starts… and he’s considered the “backup.”

Yet on many social media markets, several people, including some Predators fans, are calling “conspiracy theory” by the NHL, saying that the refs are on the side of the Blackhawks because they missed an interference call last night. Others are saying that it doesn’t count or devaluing the streak because they aren’t playing Eastern Conference teams. Some are allowing the hate of a team or fanbase overlook the rarity and historical hockey moment that is happening. Guys…even Red Wings fans, whose team broke the NHL record for most consecutive home wins (23) last year, are applauding the Blackhawks win streak.

So let me break it down for you in 4 simple steps to how the Blackhawks have gone without a regulation loss.

Refusing to lose: It’s a wonderfully dangerous mentality that the Nashville Predators are unfortunately missing out on right now. Dating back over a dozen games, Chicago Blackhawks players have been talking about just going out there refusing to take a loss. Even their 3 “losses” have been decided by shootout, not by a team scoring on them. In old NHL rules, or Steven A. Smith’s delusion world, those games would be ties. They go out and play a full 60 minutes, and they leave with the W. They aren’t stressed about it either—“Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews actually smiled last night on a few occasions. These guys are going out and enjoying the game while not worrying about it. They trust each other as a team and hold the confidence that they’re going to take care of business.

“One Goal”… literally: The Blackhawks promotional slogan has been “One Goal” for several years in a row now… no one ever thought the team meant it literally. It doesn’t mean that the Blackhawks can only score one goal, like the Predators the past few games. It means 16 of the Blackhawks games have been decided by just one goal, 10 of which in overtime or shootout. Last night’s “one goal” came with less than a minute to go in the game. The Blackhawks have been able to put the pressure on net to break the ties, whether or not it is in regulation or extra time.

The Little Things: It is hard not to watch the Blackhawks and not be amazed by how simply they get goals in net. Some of the things that they are doing are fine-tuned basic hockey. They’re keeping their sticks near the ice, instead of letting it rest on their waist, and sometimes that millisecond to get your stick on the ice is the difference between a rebound save and a rebound goal. Also, the team puts traffic in front of the net, and sometimes it’s more than one person. More so, their eyes never leave the puck. Many of the goals by players like Andrew Shaw, Viktor Stalberg, and Brandon Saad have all been grit goals from crashing the net and refusing to stop trying to get the puck until the whistle blows. They’ve also just been throwing pucks toward the net instead of dumping the puck behind the net to the corners, which has actually resulted in some fluke goals.

Rising to the Occasion: EVERY single player on this Chicago team has stepped up and played a major role in this win streak. No one is just riding it. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa, as expected, lead the team in points, but who’s right behind them? Guys on the third and fourth line like Bryan Bickell and Marcus Kruger. Really, there isn’t a line that isn’t an offensive threat for the Blackhawks. Last night, Marian Hossa was scratched at the last minute with the elusive upper body injury. So who replaces him on the first line? Daniel Carcillo, who has only played 9 games this season. Think about that for a second—the guy brought in for grit and not scoring is now playing on the first line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad to replace one of the best puck handlers and . It’s like Rich Clune playing with Marty Erat and David Legwand… But it actually works. Carcillo was the one who scored with less than a minute remaining in the game and had a stellar performance.

People need to stop whining about one missed call. They have the best penalty kill in the Western Conference (2nd in NHL) with 89%. Plus, Jonathan Toews scored shorthanded on them last night. Do you really think ONE call is going to change that? Also, there were missed calls on the Avalanche, including an elbow. Think that the refs are just handing them power plays? If there’s one thing that the Blackhawks struggle at, it’s the power play. They have only made 16 out of 90 attempts, ranked for 12th in the NHL. Think that power plays are being handed to them because 90 attempts in half a season seems like a lot? The San Jose Sharks have had 102 power play opportunities. And the Eastern Conference…has anyone over there won 11 straight or gone without a regulation loss? Didn’t think so.

You don’t have to like the Blackhawks. This isn’t here to convert you to a Blackhawks fan. But as a hockey fan…Respect the streak. It is a truly rare and remarkable occasion that will be talked about decades from now.

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