With a 5-3 win last night over the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks pushed their point-streak this season to 23 games — a record of 20-0-3. The streak, which is the longest in the history of the National Hockey League to begin a season and second longest point streak of all-time, has put the Blackhawks front-and-centre on the sports radar in the United States. But in the end, the streak means nothing if the Blackhawks don’t win the final game of the season.
Many have been discrediting the streak as a product of the loser-point era and saying the Blackhawks have been the beneficiary of a “play it safe and secure at least a single” strategy, the streak should be discredited for another reason entirely: it doesn’t mean a thing.
Though earning a record in a league that’s satiated with parity is an achievement, it would be remiss to think anyone but fans and media care much about the streak. Even with this streak being only statistically possible once every 700 years according to Richard Cleary in an interview with USA Today’s Kevin Allen, it’s still not what the players set out each season to do, and it’s not what diehard fans dream of their team doing.
However unlikely it seems, this record will fall. This record will fall, and without a Stanley Cup to commemorate what is one of the greatest seasons the Windy City’s NHL team has ever seen, it will eventually be a memory that falls by the wayside for all hockey fans.
These records, for the most part, they come and go. What was Anaheim’s record from 2006-07 is no more, but if Ducks fans were asked what they remember about that season, it would be safe to say it’s the Stanley Cup.
The Blackhawks have been impressive this season, which is an understatement, but this season is about a race to the finish, not who’s first out of the blocks.
Were the Blackhawks to slip in the playoffs and be eliminated early, the streak would not be enough to please the fans. A divisional banner, maybe the least important banner in all of hockey, is worth less than nothing.
It’s not that fan expectations of this team are too high; fan expectations are right where they should be. The Blackhawks have succeeded to a point where they’re bound to lose a few — and a few in a row, in all likelihood — but ‘Hawks fans should now be worried about when this team happens to hit the skids.
The streak is an interesting statistical oddity and something that will eventually come to an end. A Stanley Cup at the end of the season will last forever.