This has been a year of streaks. In the NBA the Miami Heat’s run of 27-straight wins just came to an end. And in the NHL the Chicago Blackhawks began the shortened season at 21-0-3 with a 24-game point streak. But there is another streak that is getting far less attention.
By beating the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins now have a 14-game win streak – not a point streak, a win streak. Just a few weeks ago, it was unthinkable that anyone would be able to catch the Hawks. But with their streak, the Penguins have now also taken over the NHL points lead. And in the West, the Anaheim Ducks have now gotten to within three points of Chicago.
The league record for consecutive wins is 17, set by the Mario Lemieux-led Penguins in 1992-93. Now as co-owner of the team, Lemieux would hardly mind if these Penguins beat his streak.
The Penguins host the New York Islanders today and the Buffalo Sabres next Tuesday. If they can win these two they will head to New York on Wednesday to face the Rangers with a chance to tie the record.
Part of the reason why the Penguins have gotten so hot is, well the play of Sidney Crosby, but it is also because they have made the big moves as the trade-deadline approaches April 3. So far they have added Calgary’s Jarome Iginla, Dallas’ Brenden Morrow and San Jose’s Douglas Murray. It also won’t hurt to have the reigning-MVP Evgeni Malkin back in the lineup after missing nearly three weeks with an upper-body injury.
As for Crosby, the Penguins captain is beginning to run away with the Hart Trophy, distancing himself from Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos. Through 35 games Crosby has 56 points on 15 goals and 41 assists.
So with all the other streaks and cinderella teams we’ve seen recently, the Penguins chasing history is undeservedly a footnote. But if they win their next two, and head into Madison Square Garden next week with a chance to tie the record, the media-train will certainly pick up steam.
As we’ve seen, winning streaks are extremely difficult, in and of themselves, and with all the added pressure they bring. To win 17 games in-a-row in any sport is remarkable but especially in hockey. The only other NHL teams to reach 14 straight wins were the 1929-30 Boston Bruins (14), the 2009-10 Washington Capitals (14), the 1981-82 New York Islanders (15) and the 1992-93 Penguins (17). So if Pittsburgh can keep this going and win 17-straight or more everyone should take notice, if you haven’t already.
Some facts about the streak:
- During the streak they’ve scored 51 goals averaging 3.64 goals per game
- They’ve allowed 26 goals, or 1.89 goals per game. The season leader for GAA on the season are the Ottawa Senators at 1.95 GAA.
- Sidney Crosby had a point in every game save for one: March 16 vs. the New York Rangers. He has 25 points in the 14 games, including a 5-assist effort against the Islanders on March 10.
- Chris Kunitz had 11 goals in the 14 games.
- Malkin played in just four of the games, and had four points.
- Before his injury, Marc-Andre Fleury won eight of the 14 games, giving up one goal or less in each of his last five starts. He had a 1.97 GAA overall with a .928 save percentage. He is now 28-10-3 in the month over the last four seasons.