Blackhawks’ focus on improving, not on extending NHL record
BY MARK LAZERUS email@example.com February 25, 2013 8:10PM
Hawks winger Andrew Shaw (C) celebrates with his teammates after scoring to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the second period of the Chicago Blackhawks-Columbus Blue Jackets NHL game Sunday February 24, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: March 27, 2013 6:25AM
Every day, as the Blackhawks’ record start has gotten longer, the media horde invading the team’s dressing room has grown larger. And the questions about the points streak never end.
Yes, the Hawks are pleased with their start. Yes, they’d like to keep it going as long as possible. But a half-exasperated, half-bemused Duncan Keith let everyone in on a little secret after Sunday night’s 1-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“I don’t really care what our record is,” Keith said. “I’ll be honest with you: Nobody in this dressing room cares about our record. We just want to get better.”
That’s not to say the achievement is lost on the Hawks. They just realize what happens in January and February doesn’t mean much compared with what happens in May and June.
“It is what it is,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “We’re excited that we’re playing good hockey. . . . We’ve got a long way to go and a lot of work left to do before we get to the playoffs, and that’s where we want to be, and that’s where we really have to perform.”
In fact, the Hawks credit their nonchalant attitude toward the record itself as a key factor in the streak’s length. Most players claimed to not even know about the record (previously held by the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks, who started 12-0-4) until a day or two before they tied it on Friday.
“We’re aware of it, but it seems this year we’re just worried about the next game and focused on that,” goalie Corey Crawford said. “I think that’s helped us a lot.”
The Hawks know they have a target on their back now, the kind usually reserved for the defending Stanley Cup champions. As coach Joel Quenneville said, they’re expecting to get every team’s best shot even after the streak ends. And they’re also expected to get plenty of questions about it until it does.
“I think it means more to all you guys than it does to us,” winger Viktor Stalberg said. “But certainly it’s a great accomplishment, and we’re excited about being in the history books — for now, at least. We want to keep going. . . . Obviously, a loss is going to come at some point, but we want to try to get as many points as possible.”