It is hard to believe that it has now been almost 3 years since the Blackhawks hoisted the Stanley Cup, and here they are today having a record-breaking season. They have yet to lose a game in regulation this season, they have scored a goal in each game this season, and they are now 16-0-3. 19 games undefeated in regulation and 19 games scoring at least a goal, that is one hell of a NHL record, and the only other teams to come close to that reached the 14 game mark but each of them won the Stanley Cup.
As a Blackhawks fan this is exciting, but as a Chicago sports fan I cannot help but to be a bit pessimistic. Last year in Chicago sports there were 3 examples of good starts that didn’t end so well. The Bears started off 7-1 and the defense was on a record-breaking path, but after various injuries the Bears ended the season 10-6 missing the playoffs. The Bulls had the best record in the NBA at 61-21 but in the the first game of the first round in the playoffs Derrick Rose tore his ACL and has yet to return. The White Sox were the AL Central leaders but due to inconsistent play they relinquished their playoff spot to their rival Detroit Tigers.
Coming off of two consecutive seasons of first round eliminations from the playoffs and a lengthy lockout, I wouldn’t expect the Blackhawks to be Stanley Cup favorites. But they are. They are head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the NHL. They are a walking target right now, every team wants to be the team that ends their record but the Blackhawks aren’t going to rollover easily at all. They are still playing with a drive and a fight, they are not overly confident.
This team is deep and strong, I’m not willing to say the season would necessarily be a bust if they don’t win the Stanley Cup. I expect them to encounter a setback somewhere down the road but I also expect them to have a high seed in the playoffs. With that said a first round exit is unacceptable.