Posted by Katie Peverada
The Chicago Blackhawks opened the season without being beaten in regulation in 24 straight games, an NHL record (if you include last season, the streak grows to 30 games of being unbeaten). And while it did fall short of the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers' 35-game unbeaten streak, it was very impressive. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat have won 24 straight games in the middle of the NBA season. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers hold the all-time record with 33 wins in a row. Both Chicago and Miami's winning streaks are impressive, but which one is more impressive? Chicago.
Over the course of their winning streaks, both teams have had notable comebacks in individual games. Twice the Blackhawks had to rally from two goals down, beating the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime, and scoring four unanswered goals to beat the San Jose Sharks 5-3. The Miami Heat have had to comeback too, with their biggest coming Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers when they overcame a 27-point deficit to win 98-95.
Both teams have dominated offensively, as the Heat are averaging 105.4 points per game, with notable blowouts of the LA Clippers and Philadelphia Sixers. The Blackhawks scored at least five goals in five of their games and won eight games by more than one goal. Chicago also outshot its opponent in 16 games. They have so far scored 75 goals, good enough for 3.13 per game. Both teams are seeing dominating offensive output from their stars: LeBron James is third in the league in scoring with 1,759 points, and his 476 assists are sixth best in the league. Chicago's Patrick Kane put up 27 points over the course of the 24 games and registered at least one point in 19 of those games.
Both streaks were undoubtedly kept alive by defensive efforts as well. The Heat have been limiting their opponents to 94.2 points per game. That's an 11.2 point differential, with the all-time season record of 12.3 being shared by those 1971-72 Lakers and the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks. Chicago received great goaltending over the course of their streak, giving up 43 goals, or 1.79 goals per game.
But which streak is more impressive? In order to tell, we have to compare apples to apples.
The Heat still have to win 9 straight games to tie the record. Their streak is pretty impressive, but long streaks are pretty common in the NBA. During the 2007-08 season, the Houston Rockets won 22 straight games, and the next year the Celtics won 19 in a row. Just this season, the LA Clippers won 17 straight games. The NBA also tends to see the same teams over and over in the playoffs. Since 2000, only six different teams have won the championship and none lower than a sixth seed has ever won.
The NHL is far more equal, making the Blackhawks' streak all the more impressive. Out of the last 12 Stanley Cup Finals played, 10 different teams have won, including eight different teams in the last eight seasons. Since 2006, 29 of the 30 NHL teams have made the playoffs, and just last year the eighth seed LA Kings won the Cup. The parity in the Western Conference itself, Chicago's conference, is incredible, as places three through 13 in the standings are separated by a mere seven points.
According to Richard Cleary, a mathematician at Bentley University, starting a season like the Hawks only happens once every 700 years. So, even if you ignore for a second that the Blackhawks' streak came during a lockout-shortened season in which they had a week of training camp and once played five games in seven days and had five back-to-backs, their streak is more impressive. Don't get me wrong, the Heat have been impressive. However, I feel like I've seen something like it before.