CHICAGO, IL - MAY 9: Andrew Shaw #65 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates with teammates Viktor Stalberg #25 and Niklas Hjalmarsson #4 after scoring against the Minnesota Wild in the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 09, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

PHT’s top 13 of ’13: Chicago’s amazing start


Twenty-four straight games without a regulation or overtime loss.

“The Streak” — Chicago’s remarkable run to start the season, in which the Blackhawks collected points in each of their first 24 games — was so big, so impressive, so unprecedented that it went beyond traditional hockey conversation.

The Streak put Chicago in direct competition with the NBA’s Miami Heat (who ended up winning 27 straight) for the most dominant team in the two sports — a made-for-TV-and-blogs debate that led to a number of lengthy discussions, some good, some not so good.

But what, exactly, made The Streak so special? Consider the following:

— It’s really, really hard to build a dominant team in the NHL, where unlike the NBA with its luxury-tax system, there’s a hard salary cap. In 2013, Chicago’s cap payroll was about $67 million. The lowest cap payroll in the NHL belonged to Phoenix, which came in around $50 million. There’s a lot of parity in hockey, and that’s a big reason why.

— Chicago came within spitting distance of one of the great all-time records in NHL history: Philadelphia’s 35-game unbeaten streak (25 wins, 10 ties) during the 1979-80 campaign. What made Chicago’s season special, though, was that the ‘Hawks finished as Stanley Cup champs; the Flyers lost the ’80 Stanley Cup Final to the Islanders.

— Dating back to the 2011-12 campaign, the ‘Hawks streak extended to 30 games.

— The Streak played a huge role in Chicago capturing its second-ever Presidents’ Trophy as regular-season champions, and first in 22 years.

But like most good things, the streak did eventually come to an end — a thud, really, in a 6-2 loss to Colorado at the Pepsi Center on Mar. 8.  When the ‘Hawks had time to reflect on what they did, the realization of going half of the season without suffering a regulation or OT loss started to sink in.

“It’s pretty amazing to make it this far,” captain Jonathan Toews said.

“We’re certainly proud of the start we had,” added Duncan Keith.

Yet it was the man overseeing it all — head coach Joel Quenneville — who perhaps best put The Streak in perspective. He noted the ‘Hawks pushed themselves almost as much as their opponents did, and were committed to achieving success as a group.

“We had a great start to the season — the guys bonded very quickly and the chemistry was there,” he told the Dan Patrick Show. “The guys gelled right from the get-go. It’s certainly been a lot of fun.

“The guys are pushing one another, they all want to play more and they all want more quality ice time. That’s what keeps it healthy around our team.”

Derek Roy signs in Swiss league

Derek Roy, Jeremy Smith, Chris Kelly
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Derek Roy has finally found work — but it’s not in the NHL.

Roy, who spent the entire preseason in Washington’s camp on a PTO, has signed with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Friday.

The news comes after Roy narrowly missed out on making the Caps roster, and just one year after he had something of a bounce-back campaign in Edmonton, scoring 22 points in 46 games while developing chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov.

A 12-year NHL veteran, Roy is one of the more prominent names to be squeezed out of work this season, and head overseas. The 31-year-old has scored over 500 points in 738 career contests, and has twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships.

With Bern, Roy will play on one of Switzerland’s stronger teams, alongside a trio of ex-NHLers: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher.

Lehner’s injury ‘doesn’t look like it’s short term’

Robin Lehner
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Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.

Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.

When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.

“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”

It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.

While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.