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About Last Night: 16 and counting for the Blackhawks

by Brad Boron / Chicago Blackhawks
Photo by Bill Smith / Chicago Blackhawks

With their 4-3 shootout win against the rivals from Vancouver, the Blackhawks have tied an NHL record with 16 straight games to begin a season without a regulation loss. The mark, which tied the eventual Stanley Cup champion 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks, can be surpassed on Friday, when the Hawks face off against San Jose for a third and final time in the shortened 2012-13 season.

Though the most important number is 16 – the number of consecutive games without a regulation loss – here are a few other numbers to put the Blackhawks’ extraordinary run into perspective:

1.88 – The Blackhawks’ team goals-against average. Corey Crawford’s 1.68 GAA is third-best among NHL goalies with 10 or more starts this season. Meanwhile, Ray Emery has allowed just 14 goals in six games so far this season.

2 – Number of active Blackhawks with a plus/minus rating below zero; only Dave Bolland (-2) and Sheldon Brookbank (-1) are in the “minus” half of the plus/minus category. At even strength, the Blackhawks have been about as good as it gets, outscoring opponents 36-23, and their average of 1.57 goals scored for every goal against at even strength is second only behind Anaheim (1.64).

2:23 – The difference between Duncan Keith’s time on ice per game last season (26:53) and this year (24:30). It’s no shock to see Keith’s name atop the Blackhawks’ ice time leader list again, but what may be surprising is the margin by which he’s leading the pack. Head Coach Joel Quenneville has saved his lead defenseman roughly three shifts of ice time per game, which is very beneficial with this year’s condensed schedule. Picking up those extra minutes, Johnny Oduya (22:24) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (21:05) are each above their average from last season.

2:47 – Marcus Kruger’s shorthanded time on ice per game, good for 12th-most among NHL centers. Only three teams (Winnipeg, Calgary and Minnesota) have spent less time shorthanded than the Blackhawks this season, but of those 91:21 minutes on the PK, Kruger has played in 44:39 of that time and has been a valuable piece to the Hawks’ kill.

7 – Power play goals allowed by the Blackhawks’ penalty killing unit this season, good for third-best in the league. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill percentage has been around 90 percent all season, and currently stands at 87.9 percent.

22 – Points for Patrick Kane through 16 games, which is tied for third overall in the NHL, behind only Thomas Vanek and Sidney Crosby, and even with Steven Stamkos. No. 88 has only been a point-per-game player for a season twice in his career: he scored 88 points in 82 games in 2009-10, and followed it up with 73 points in 73 games the next season.

23 – Total players the Hawks have used this season, tied for second-fewest in the league. Only Steve Montador (16 games), Daniel Carcillo (15 games) and Michal Rozsival (8 games) have missed significant time due to injury this season.

166 – The total number of takeaways by the Blackhawks in 16 games, by far the most in the NHL. Buffalo – way behind with 128 takeaways – is second-best in the league. The Hawks are led by their captain, Jonathan Toews, who ranks second in the league with 22 by himself.

661 – One streak the Hawks were glad to break on this record start, the number of days separating the Blackhawks’ previous shutout (April 22, 2011) from their next shutout, a 3-0 win in Nashville on Feb. 10. Corey Crawford earned the win by stopping 36 shots against the Predators.

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