Blackhawks point streak snapped, but Cup or bust shouldn't be - KMSP-TV

Hawks point streak snapped, but Cup or bust shouldn't be

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The inevitable finally happened as the Chicago Blackhawks were defeated 6-2 by the Colorado Avalanche Friday night. The 24-game point streak is over but this incredible record shouldn't be overlooked. To pick up at least one point in 24 games to begin an NHL season is an outstanding accomplishment.

Records are made to be broken is an old adage and in many ways is true, but this mark could stand for a very long time. Even when it is broken there will be things that set the Blackhawks record apart from any other franchise. To appreciate the differences let me provide a little context.

When the 24 game mark is surpassed it is highly unlikely the team doing so will have participated in only a one week training camp. The next record holder won't begin the season by playing 10 of 12 contests on the road. Another factor which will set the Hawks record apart is they have played 25 games in a total of 49 days, which is a grueling pace. This record will fall but it is highly doubtful the next team will go 24 games while suffering a total of only three overtime or shootout losses.

We could break the streak down further and come up with more amazing stats. Most important is it is safe to say this record, done in this fashion, could be something seen only once in a lifetime.

With the great start and the added media attention the Blackhawks bandwagon is busting at the seams. In my view the more people watching the Blackhawks the better but sometimes the focus on what should be so is clouded by many who don't know better.

Every team that has won at least 13 games to start a season has gone on to win a Stanley Cup. There were four others besides the Hawks, so the cries of this being a Cup or bust year are somewhat understandable. It would be more accurate to say the last time the Hawks won Lord Stanley it was a Cup or bust year.

Everyone witnessed the salary cap purge that came in the summer of 2010. With the exception of maybe one player, the same dismantling would have happened if the Blackhawks didn't win the grand prize. That was a rare occasion in a salary cap world whereby a team loads up, partially by design and not, in hopes of being crowned champions. There was a price to pay and two consecutive first round playoff exits say the same. This Hawks squad won't be torn apart because of salary cap issues.

Make no mistake if the Blackhawks don't win the Cup there will be good cause for disappointment. That said most longtime Hawk fans and followers of the NHL know the playoffs begin a new season. To get a more complete understanding consider the following. The club that set the record for most wins in a single season was defeated in the Western Conference Finals by none other than the Colorado Avalanche.

In 1995-1996 the Detroit Red Wings finished the regular season with a 62-13-7 record. They are the franchise record holders for most wins in a single season and had a lineup featuring seven Hall of Fame players. A truly amazing team and record, but the mighty Red Wings fell in six games in the Western Conference Finals.

Injuries are the big unknown and have a huge impact. The playoffs are more grueling than even the 25 games in 49 days the Hawks just completed. The pressure is greater and the play is more intense. A key injury or two is enough to cause an underdog to survive. Then there are other variables like officiating.

How many times during this streak did the Hawks get a favorable ruling on a goal review, or break on a missed call? On Friday night the officiating was poor and didn't help the Hawks at all but Colorado was the much better team regardless. Last but not least is one of the biggest reasons for an upset in the playoffs, a goaltender who is simply unbeatable over an entire series. No matter how successful the regular season may be, winning the Stanley Cup doesn't always follow.

As everyone can take a step back it is best to appreciate what has just happened, although the ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup. No matter what the Blackhawks do in the post season their consecutive point streak should always be held in high regard.

Al's Shots

Patrick Sharp is out and the word from the Blackhawks is the injury could have him sidelined for three or four weeks. It is thought Sharp suffered a shoulder separation, but he will not need surgery.

Now that the streak is over there will be a more complete assessment of the Hawks given on TV during games and elsewhere.

Frequently I have given readers stats on faceoff wins and losses. I don't do that to fill up space and those who watch closely knew before Friday night that the Hawks are a poor faceoff team.

Jonathan Toews is winning almost 59 percent of his attempts and he ranks as one of ten best this season. That's great but what isn't good is the performance of the other centers at the dot.

In many games, only Toews is above 50 percent in faceoff percentage but winning does cover up blemishes.

The fact is Marcus Kruger and Dave Bolland are normally under 50 percent, many times well under. Both on occasion are absolutely horrible at the dot and seldom are both good. So the imbalance is a big issue because Toews can't take every faceoff. Jamal Mayers, when he plays is adequate but he doesn't get much ice time. Andrew Shaw is a work in progress but gives reason to believe he may be able to hold his own in the faceoff circle.

The Colorado centers, who are all very good players had a great night. The Hawks played poorly and in an odd game, Toews was a winner only 45 percent of the time at the dot and that spells trouble.

The others didn't help the cause: Kruger 17 percent, Boland 44 percent and Shaw was a winner of only one out of ten faceoffs.

We will have time to talk about GM Stan Bowman's wish list before the April 3 trade deadline. No doubt he is watching the faceoff stats not only when the Hawks lose.

There isn't much time to lick wounds as the young and speedy Edmonton Oilers pay a visit on Sunday night.

I will be back Monday to go over the game and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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