Thursday Blurbs - The Streak
Monday night, the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in overtime. Edmonton, who had owned the Blackhawks last season, gave up two one-goal leads during regulation as Marian Hossa completed the comeback for the Blackhawks by punching in a rebound off Nikolai Khabibulin. The win gave the Blackhawks two more points and brought their record to 16-0-3 with a league-leading 35 points. The Blackhawks' start to this season is not only impressive, but record-breaking. No team has gone as many games as Chicago (19) to start a season without losing in regulation and are now chasing the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers' 35-game unbeaten streak. They will look to continue their run tonight against a Divisional rival in the St. Louis Blues.
While this streak will mean nothing once the playoffs come around, it's still an accomplishment deserving of praise. The Blackhawks are the hottest team in all of sports. The last time the Blackhawks lost a game in regulation? April 23, 2012 - a playoff game against the Phoenix Coyotes. The last time they lost in regulation during a regular season game? March 25, 2012 against the Nashville Predators. Chicago has put this impressive streak together with impeccable goal-tending from two men. Their starting goalie, Corey Crawford, went down with an upper-body injury recently and missed several games. No matter, backup Ray Emery stepped in and now has a perfect 8-0-0 record on the season. Crawford made his return last week and promptly recorded his first shutout of the season. Mix that in with a dominating defensive squad that includes former James Norris Trophy award winner Duncan Keith, Olympic gold medalist Brent Seabrook, Stanley Cup winner Niklas Hjalmarsson, veteran Johnny Oduya and improving young stud Nick Leddy and a top-notch offense with Hart Trophy nominee Patrick Kane, captain Jonathan Toews and a perfect mixture of veterans (Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa) and young players making an impact (Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad). Not to mention the Blackhawks are second in the NHL in penalty killing percentage thanks to defensive forwards in Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger and you've got the makings of the best team in the NHL right there. And there's still talented players on the team that I didn't even mention. That's how deep they are. The streak makes for good journalistic fodder and it's a nice feather in their cap (or another feather on their crest perhaps) but all it does is convince the NHL world and their fans that the Chicago Blackhawks need to carry this momentum into the playoffs a few months from now and bring the Stanley Cup back home to Chicago.
• The Kansas City Chiefs have acquired QB Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers for two second round draft picks - one of them being a high second round pick. Smith became expendable after he suffered a concussion last season and his backup Colin Kaepernick sparked the offense better than the former number one overall pick did in his time starting. Still, Smith was hardly having a bad season by any means. 2012 was actually shaping up to be his best season of his career before the injury and now he has a chance to really prove himself once again with the Chiefs and new head-coach Andy Reid. Regardless, this was an impeccable deal for San Francisco as they got rid of an unneeded player and brought in some very valuable trade pieces as this move could be a precursor to another. Darrelle Revis, perhaps?
• The NHL is currently discussing a possible shakeup in the way they do things. The current alignment of teams is focused on Conference standings as the top eight teams in the West and East make the playoffs - the same concept the NBA uses. With the new alignment plan getting closer and closer to coming intro fruition for next season, the NHL may have a playoff picture more similar to the MLB. The proposal would have four Divisions where each winner would punch a playoff ticket as well as Wild Card spots. The Divisional winner with the highest point total at season's end would face the playoff team with the fewest points and so on. The plan requires approval from both the NHL Players' Association and Board of Governors. It would move the Detroit Red Wings into the East in what would be a very unpopular move amongst NHL fans as the Detroit/Chicago "Orginal Six" rivalry has been a staple of the league since its inception. Still, who isn't drooling at the idea of a Stanley Cup Final against these two rivals?
• The New York Knicks beat the Golden State Warriors 109-105 last night, but it was Stephen Curry who made the most noise. The All-Star snub poured in a career-high 54 points to go with six rebounds, seven assists and three steals in a line that made fantasy owners everywhere salivate. Curry was incredibly efficient as he went 18-28 from the field including an astounding 11-13 from three-point land - just one short of the NBA record.
• Dennis Rodman was in North Korea. I'm not sure why, apparently Kim Jong-un is a big NBA fan and loved Michael Jordan and the Bulls Dynasty of the 90s. I have no idea what to make of this, but maybe Dennis Rodman will bring us world peace. You taking notes, Ron Artest? It's one thing to change your name, how about you get off your butt and do something like model citizen Dennis Rodman, huh?
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