Blackhawks Streak (3/8/13)

By John Ewing

A look at the Chicago Blackhawks streak, the odds of winning so many games and if winning streaks translate to playoff success.

Chicago is in the midst of a 24-game and counting streak without a regulation or overtime loss to start the 2013 season. This is kind of a confusing streak because Chicago has lost three times this season, but all were in shootouts. The streak can continue as long as the Blackhawks are tied after overtime. The Blackhawks have actually gone 30 games without a regulation loss extending back to March 2012. The streak breaks the Edmonton Oilers' record of 15 games set back in 1984-85.

The streak reached a tipping point in our sports culture when LeBron James tweeted:

The love shown by LeBron has sparked a debate about which streak is more impressive. Currently Miami is on a 16-game winning streak. For the Heat this sets a franchise record, but some are quick to dismiss any comparison because the Blackhawks' streak is a league record.

Here is a look at each team's opponents during their respective streaks and our projected chances that they win the game outright.

Blackhawks Heat
Date Opponent Win% Date Opponent Win%
19-Jan Los Angeles 42.0% 3-Feb Toronto 56.8%
20-Jan Phoenix 45.2% 4-Feb Charlotte 92.1%
22-Jan St. Louis 57.4% 6-Feb Houston 77.6%
24-Jan Dallas 50.6% 8-Feb LA Clippers 65.4%
26-Jan Columbus 56.2% 10-Feb LA Lakers 77.9%
27-Jan Detroit 66.0% 12-Feb Portland 84.1%
30-Jan Minnesota 46.5% 14-Feb Oklahoma City 32.6%
1-Feb Vancouver 46.0% 20-Feb Atlanta 62.2%
2-Feb Calgary 53.7% 21-Feb Chicago 55.4%
5-Feb San Jose 43.8% 23-Feb Philadelphia 75.4%
7-Feb Phoenix 49.0% 24-Feb Cleveland 88.2%
10-Feb Nashville 51.6% 26-Feb Sacramento 90.1%
12-Feb Anaheim 62.7% 1-Mar Memphis 80.5%
15-Feb San Jose 57.9% 3-Mar New York 50.4%
17-Feb Los Angeles 63.5% 4-Mar Minnesota 78.1%
19-Feb Vancouver 59.7% 6-Mar Orlando 91.6%
22-Feb San Jose 60.9%
24-Feb Columbus 73.6%
25-Feb Edmonton 70.0%
28-Feb St. Louis 44.0%
1-Mar Columbus 68.9%
3-Mar Detroit 57.8%
5-Mar Minnesota 66.1%
6-Mar Colorado 70.3%

Chicago has won their last 11 games in a row; the odds of that happening are approximately 1-in-200. The odds of Chicago winning all 24 games are approximately 1-in-1,000,000. Miami's chances of winning 16 straight games is approximately 1-in-1,000. In the context of actual winning streaks (16 compared to 11), Miami's performance has been more impressive. However, the odds that Chicago would not lose in regulation or overtime dwarfs the odds on either streak. Still, both are impressive statistical outliers.

So, do winning streaks to begin a season translate to playoff success? We look across sports for the answer.

MLB: The 1982 Atlanta Braves and 1987 Milwaukee Brewers started with 13 straight victories. The Braves lost in the NL Championship Series and the Brewers finished seven games out of first in the AL East.

NBA: The 1948 Washington Capitols and the 1993 Houston Rockets started with 15 straight victories. The Capitols lost in the NBA Finals, but the Rockets won the NBA Championship (of course Michael Jordan was playing baseball at the time).

NFL: The 2007 Patriots won all 16 games of the regular season before falling to the Giants in the Super Bowl.

It is important to note that due to the lockout shortened season there are no inter-conference games. The Blackhawks have built this streak without having to face any of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.