CHICAGO – They haven't lost a single game in regulation through the first 18 games, their goal differential is an astounding plus-23 prior to playing the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night at United Center, and still the Chicago Blackhawks insist they can take it up a notch.
"We should think we're not anywhere near as good as we can be – and have to be – [in order] to be effective," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said following a tough 1-0 home win on Sunday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. "There's not a lot of negative things [to criticize], but there were some things [against Columbus] … we want to look to improve our team situation, game in and game out. Let's want to get better."
The win against Columbus upped Chicago's current National Hockey League record string of games to start a season with at least a point to 18 straight, but the Blackhawks sound tired of talking about it.
"Yeah, I don't really care, like, what our record is … to be honest with you," star defenseman Duncan Keith said. "I'll be honest with you. Like, nobody in this dressing room cares right now about our record. We just want to get better."
What will it be like when they eventually do get defeated in 60 minutes of hockey?
"We want to win every game," Keith said, bluntly. "We're not going to be happy if we lose. We're not reminiscing about the season. Like, it's 18 games. It's game by game. We've got a big game [against Edmonton Monday night] and that's what it is."
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has a similar outlook.
"It is what it is," Toews said of the record streak. "We're excited we're playing good hockey. The last game there to set that record [last Friday against the San Jose Sharks] was exciting for us and we know it's nothing more than that. We've got a long ways to go and there's a lot of work left to do before we get to the playoffs. That's where we want to be."
They're also hoping to be playing even better than they are now when that point comes.
"That's where, really, we have to perform, but I think we're improving on all the little details of our game … every single game," Toews said. "It doesn't matter who we play. We don't take anyone for granted. We just make sure we're prepared for the job we have to do and that's an important thing."