Chicago Blackhawks Make Hockey Part Of The National Sports Conversation, Share Spotlight With Miami Heat

Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks' Daniel Carcillo, left, celebrates scoring the game winning goal against the Colorado Avalanche with his teammates Niklas Hjalmarsson, center, and Johnny Oduya during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Chicago, Ill., Wednesday. Jim Young/Reuters

Two teams are on incredible streaks, with one used to the national spotlight and another whose sport is marginally recognized in America. The Miami Heat, with superstar LeBron James, is used to success and attention due to basketball and the NBA being so popular in America. The Chicago Blackhawks are hockey’s hottest team and are now sharing the spotlight with basketball’s best team.

The Blackhawks are in the midst of a historic points streak, going 21-0-3 in their first 24 games to start the season. With all the attention on the Blackhawks, it seems as though the National Hockey League, and hockey in general, is back on the American radar.

The Blackhawks picked up another victory on Wednesday, beating the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 thanks to a goal by left winger Daniel Carcillo with just 50 seconds left in the third period. The Blackhawks have 45 points, 10 more than the second-place Anaheim Ducks, and with Wednesday’s win extended the record points streak to start an NHL season.

“Yeah, I was happy to help this team win; they were doing so well," Carcillo said about the game-winning goal. "You don't want to mess anything up. ... It's a just bit of an affirmation that I need to keep going,” according to ESPN.

The Blackhawks won their last two games during regulation and beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in a shootout on a nationally televised game on NBC on Sunday, which garnered record ratings. Pro Hockey Talk reports that the Blackhawks against the Red Wings were the best ratings for a regular season game, not including Winter Classics, drawing a 1.8 overnight rating. There's no report yet on the total number of people who tuned in to watch the Blackhawks, but record ratings indicate that the hockey team has captured national interest.

The Blackhawks have gone undefeated in the first half of the shortened 48 game NHL season, according to ESPN. While the Blackhawks are currently setting records for points to start a season, they still are chasing the 1979-1980 Philadelphia Flyers who own the NHL record for 35 games with a point.

“There's no special equation. There's no magic going on. It's just work ethic, the depth of our team kicking in," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, just 24, said about the team’s success. "We're working for every chance we get, every little piece of offense. We're playing smart in our own zone. It's all those little details,” according to ESPN. Toews describes the streak as “fun” and is not content with just the points streak; he is more concerned with success and capturing another Stanley Cup.

The Blackhawks streak has been so impressive that ESPN even debated about it on "SportsCenter," putting the hockey team in the same discussion as the Miami Heat. The Heat are on their own streak, having won their last 16 games. Television analyst Stephen A. Smith debated whose streak was better -- the Heat or the Blackhawks. Smith sided with the Heat’s win streak but, when the Blackhawks are being mentioned in the same sentence as the Miami Heat, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, hockey fans should be excited that their sport is part of the mainstream sports discussion.

On Wednesday, after the Heat and Blackhawks won their games, James sent out this tweet: “Hey Chicago Blackhawks, u guys are AWESOME!! #streaking.” Blackhawks star Patrick Kane replied to the compliment: “Back at you LeBron. Keep rolling.” Bryan Bickell, Blackhawks left winger, said, “Thanks for the support man. It's been pretty crazy.” As a comparison, James has more than 7 million Twitter followers to Kane's 257,959. Even one of hockey's biggest stars, Alex Ovechkin, has just 529,001 followers.

The Blackhawks look to extend their streak on Friday when they will play the Avalanche in Colorado.

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