As the clock registered zeros, many dejected Chicago Blackhawks fans including myself left the United Center disappointed. Last night was saw the game in which the streak died. The Colorado Avalanche were the first NHL team in 27 games to hold Patrick Kane off of the score sheet. The Avalanche appear to be the Blackhawks’ kryptonite when on a streak. In case people forgot, the Avalanche also gave the Blackhawks their first regulation loss in 2013, ending their streak of consecutive games without a regulation loss. That season’s streak was a 21-0-3 record.
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With Kane’s point streak being over, it is important to look upon the significance of the streak. There are two perspectives that need to be taken: a broad NHL perspective and a Blackhawks-focused perspective. On the broad NHL perspective, in a league marred with speculation about how to improve scoring, Kane recorded a point in 26 consecutive games. Kane scored 19 goals and recorded 24 assists during that time. The streak was the longest in the NHL since Mats Sundin went 30 games with a point in 1992-93 with the Quebec Nordiques. It took someone in the NHL 23 years to get within four points of Sundin’s streak, and that is significant.
Kane’s streak set a new record for American-born players. He topped Ed Olczyk‘s (1999-2000) and Phil Kessel‘s (2008-09) respective 18-game point streaks. The streak also garnered the attention of Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky was on record saying that he believed Kane had a chance to break his point-streak record. Gretzky currently holds the NHL record at 51 games with a point in 1983-84. The streak was important to the NHL because it might have silenced some critics of the NHL’s apparent scoring issue. It also raises the question of whether or not this will be the year an American-born player wins the scoring title.
From a Blackhawks perspective, the streak was important for more reasons. Kane’s streak broke the franchise record for most consecutive games with a point, set by Bobby Hull. Hull’s record of 21 games with a point stood since 1971-72 season. It was important because it showed that Kane could develop chemistry with new and talented players. Before this season, Kane had never skated Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin. Kane, Anisimov and Panarin are currently the Blackhawks’ best line. It also proved that the language barrier between recently-acquired Panarin and his teammates would not affect their play on the ice.
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The point streak also showed the Blackhawks organization and their fans that Kane was not negatively affected on the ice by his offseason. Regardless of what side people took in the Kane rape investigation (there was no wrong stance), the assumption was that his play would be affected on the ice. Despite all the off-ice issues, Kane was able to build on his scoring pedigree from last season in just 26 games. Kane recorded 27 goals and 37 assists in 61 games last regular season, and 11 goals and 12 assists in 23 playoff games. This season, Kane alerady has 19 goals and 27 assists.
This point streak proves that Kane was able to block out the external factors and focus on the game of hockey. Overall, the streak was important to the Blackhawks because it helped them win games and put the focus back on hockey.