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Blackhawks have chance to make NHL history Tuesday against Canucks

Chicago Blackhawks Vs San Jose Sharks. Chicago Blackhawks celebrate with goaltender No.30 Ray Emery after Blackhawks victory over San Jose

Chicago Blackhawks Vs San Jose Sharks. Chicago Blackhawks celebrate with goaltender No.30 Ray Emery after the Blackhawks victory over the San Jose Sharks 4-1. February 15 , 2013 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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STREAKS ALIVE

Longest streaks without
a regulation loss to start a season

2006-07 Anaheim Ducks 12-0-4 Won Stanley Cup

1984-85 Edmonton Oilers 12-0-3 Won Stanley Cup

2013 BLACKHAWKS 12-0-3 ???

1943-44 Montreal Canadiens 11-0-3 Won Stanley Cup

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Updated: March 20, 2013 6:29AM



Word about the record started trickling into the Blackhawks’ dressing room after their victory Friday against the San Jose Sharks.

The Hawks were closing in on the most successful start in NHL history. Not only that, but the three teams to go the furthest into a
season without losing a game in regulation — a group the Hawks had joined with that victory — all had won the Stanley Cup.

The 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks started 12-0-4 and finished as champions. The 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers started 12-0-3 and finished as champions. The 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens started 11-0-3 and finished as champions.

‘‘Interesting stat,’’ Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Hawks are 12-0-3, the second-best season-opening point streak in NHL history. A victory or overtime/shootout loss Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center would match the all-time mark. They could break it Friday against the Sharks.

That’s nice, the Hawks say. But don’t start etching their names into the Stanley Cup just yet.

‘‘What is it, 15 games into the
season?’’ captain Jonathan Toews said after the victory Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings. ‘‘What’s important to us is getting home-ice advantage and making the playoffs; those are our goals. Once you get there, the real season starts. That’s a long way away.’’

That’s not to say the Hawks aren’t aware of what they’re accomplishing. But they know just how little it will mean when the calendar turns to May and the records are wiped clean to start the playoffs.

‘‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,’’ said Ray Emery, a record-holder himself as the only goalie in NHL history to win the first nine decisions of his career. ‘‘It’s great in a short season to come out well, but it’s even better to finish well.’’

Winger Patrick Sharp has
reminded reporters — and teammates — often during this remarkable start that the Hawks were flying high last season before a nine-game losing streak derailed everything, setting the stage for a first-round playoff exit. So while there has been plenty of talk about the streak around the Hawks, they have kept it to a minimum among themselves.

‘‘I don’t think you can crown a champion just now,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘That’s why you play the games. The league is so close and [there’s] so much parity in it right now, it only tightens up as the season goes on. There’s a lot of hockey left to be played, but we definitely feel good about the way we’re playing, and the idea is to get better every week.’’

And there’s always room to
improve. While the Hawks have had balanced scoring, tremendous goaltending, stellar penalty-killing, forwards chipping in defensively, defensemen chipping in offensively and strong depth — with fourth-liners Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik proving invaluable — they have only six power-play goals in their last 46 chances. And No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford’s unspecified upper-body injury remains a concern, though Quenneville said he didn’t expect it to be a long-term injury.

‘‘We’re very happy with our start; we put ourselves in a real good spot,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘But let’s go one game at a time.’’

One more game might mean a share of the record. One more game after that might mean breaking it. Beyond that, who knows? The consensus among the Hawks is that the record would be nice and that it is a sign all their hard work is paying off. But the Hawks know — and keep reminding everybody — what really matters is what happens in May and June, not January and February.

‘‘It’s fun winning games; it’s fun getting points,’’ winger Patrick Kane said. ‘‘When you’re working hard and winning, it makes the game a lot more fun. For all of us, it’d be nice to reach that record.
Obviously, it doesn’t mean too much, but it shows that we’re still winning games and getting points. It’s always nice to do that.’’



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