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Chicago Blackhawks on the Cusp of Making NHL History

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 15: Members of the Chicago Blackhawks including Niklas Hjalmasson #4, Jonathan Toews #19 and Michael Frolik #67 congratulate Ray Emery #30 after a win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center on February 15, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Sharks 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
James MaahsContributor IIIFebruary 17, 2013

The Chicago Blackhawks are on the verge of making NHL history if they can go three more games without a regulation loss.

In doing so, the Blackhawks will have eclipsed the all-time NHL record of 16 games without a regulation loss, set by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2006-07 season.

Only four teams in the history of the NHL have garnered a point in each of their first 14 games to start the season. The Ducks' streak ended at 16 games, the 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers' at 15 games and the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens' at 14 games—the 2013 Blackhawks are currently at 14 games.

The first three went on the win the Stanley Cup in their respective seasons. Is a similar fate in store for the Blackhawks this year?

It is too early to judge, but with the way the season is unfolding, optimism among Blackhawks fans is at its highest since they last won the Cup in 2010. It's easy to see why with how the team has played on the road this season.

The Blackhawks have played 10 of their first 14 games on the road, and 10 of the 12 teams they have played had a .500 or better record. Being this far into the season—with an unfavorable schedule early on—it seemed unlikely that they would be at this point.

But here they are, so close to making the history books with no sign of letting up on their winning ways.

Even some of the Blackhawks had no idea that they were so close to breaking an NHL record.

"I don't know if we knew about the record, but I know we feel we've got a good group in here, and the record represents that," Patrick Sharp said (via Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times).

The next three games will be at the United Center, and the Blackhawks will have the advantage of playing teams they have already seen this season.

But that's where the advantages end; the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks all roll into town. All are playoff-caliber teams, and the Canucks have already defeated the 'Hawks in a shootout this season.

It's also likely that all three of these teams will be itching to hand Chicago its first regulation loss of the 2013 season. It may even be a statement to hand the Blackhawks a regulation loss after all of their success.

The 'Hawks will have to earn their spot in the record books, but with the play of their top two lines and goaltending, odds are that it will happen.

The streak will eventually come to an end; it has to. But that begs the question: Just how long can the Blackhawks go without a regulation loss?

They have five more home games before departing to St. Louis for a game against the Blues. It will likely come down to the bitter end, and more than a few fights, to finally bring down the Blackhawks' streak.

Fatigue will be a major factor in handing the Blackhawks their first regulation loss—just look at the game in Calgary; that should have been a loss in regulation due to fatigue. But, Marian Hossa found a way to keep the team alive with his last-minute heroics.

Ideally, it will go on until the Blackhawks have cleared enough room between themselves and the other teams in the Western Conference.

Regardless, history is closing in on the Blackhawks, and instead of looking forward three or four games down the line, players are focused on one period at a time.

“One day and one game at a time, but we like our start, the consistency and the balance,” Coach Joel Quenneville said. “We have a tough opponent next. Let’s get excited about it," (via Tracey Myers of CSNChicago).

 

Follow James Maahs on Twitter for all the latest on the NHL and Chicago Blackhawks.


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