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PHT’s top 13 of ’13: Chicago’s amazing start

Dec 25, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 9: Andrew Shaw #65 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates with teammates Viktor Stalberg #25 and Niklas Hjalmarsson #4 after scoring against the Minnesota Wild in the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 09, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

Twenty-four straight games without a regulation or overtime loss.

“The Streak” — Chicago’s remarkable run to start the season, in which the Blackhawks collected points in each of their first 24 games — was so big, so impressive, so unprecedented that it went beyond traditional hockey conversation.

The Streak put Chicago in direct competition with the NBA’s Miami Heat (who ended up winning 27 straight) for the most dominant team in the two sports — a made-for-TV-and-blogs debate that led to a number of lengthy discussions, some good, some not so good.

But what, exactly, made The Streak so special? Consider the following:

— It’s really, really hard to build a dominant team in the NHL, where unlike the NBA with its luxury-tax system, there’s a hard salary cap. In 2013, Chicago’s cap payroll was about $67 million. The lowest cap payroll in the NHL belonged to Phoenix, which came in around $50 million. There’s a lot of parity in hockey, and that’s a big reason why.

— Chicago came within spitting distance of one of the great all-time records in NHL history: Philadelphia’s 35-game unbeaten streak (25 wins, 10 ties) during the 1979-80 campaign. What made Chicago’s season special, though, was that the ‘Hawks finished as Stanley Cup champs; the Flyers lost the ’80 Stanley Cup Final to the Islanders.

— Dating back to the 2011-12 campaign, the ‘Hawks streak extended to 30 games.

— The Streak played a huge role in Chicago capturing its second-ever Presidents’ Trophy as regular-season champions, and first in 22 years.

But like most good things, the streak did eventually come to an end — a thud, really, in a 6-2 loss to Colorado at the Pepsi Center on Mar. 8.  When the ‘Hawks had time to reflect on what they did, the realization of going half of the season without suffering a regulation or OT loss started to sink in.

“It’s pretty amazing to make it this far,” captain Jonathan Toews said.

“We’re certainly proud of the start we had,” added Duncan Keith.

Yet it was the man overseeing it all — head coach Joel Quenneville — who perhaps best put The Streak in perspective. He noted the ‘Hawks pushed themselves almost as much as their opponents did, and were committed to achieving success as a group.

“We had a great start to the season — the guys bonded very quickly and the chemistry was there,” he told the Dan Patrick Show. “The guys gelled right from the get-go. It’s certainly been a lot of fun.

“The guys are pushing one another, they all want to play more and they all want more quality ice time. That’s what keeps it healthy around our team.”

  1. jpat2424 - Dec 25, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Back to back

  2. blackhawks2010 - Dec 25, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Amazing year and to continue that dominance the following year is unheard of in the post salary capera.

    2 Cups in 4 years and 3rd coming…..

  3. comeonnowguys - Dec 26, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    10 of the first 12 games on the road, and if memory serves, each of the first four weekends (after opening weekend, which started on a Saturday) had three games in four nights.

    I’m not sure we’re going to see this again in the modern era, let alone 35. That was back when you didn’t have sudden death overtimes and then shootouts. Up until that game in Colorado, the ‘Hawks’ only blemishes came after they played 65 minutes to a tie and lost in the shootout.

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