Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Every ten-game win streak of the cap era, ranked from least to most fake

Last week, the Calgary Flames lost a game to the Vancouver Canucks. That wouldn’t usually feel all that newsworthy. But this time it did, because the loss snapped the Flames’ ten-game winning streak.

Those streaks are rare, although not as rare as you might think. There have been three this year – the Flames, plus the Penguins and Avalanche. There’s been at least one win streak of ten games or longer in every season of the cap era, with the exception of 2014-2015. In all, the list of 10+ win streaks in NHL history sits at 59, with the cap (and shootout) era accounting for 33 of them.

And let’s just say they’re not all created equal.

That’s the thing about long win streaks. Sometimes, they’re an absolute show of force by a truly superior team exerting its dominance over an outclassed league for weeks on end. And sometimes, if we’re being completely honest, it’s just a mediocre team (or worse) that goes on a fluke run. A goalie gets hot, the bounces all go one way, and next thing you know a team looks unbeatable. But it doesn’t last, and by the end of the season you’re left wondering how these scrubs managed to string together that many wins.

Today, we’re going to rank all 30 cap-era streaks from past seasons, going from the least to the most fake. (Sorry, Flames, Pens and Avs fans, we won’t know how this year’s streaks rank until a few months from now.) There’s no set criteria, but basically we’re using the power of hindsight to see which teams that ran off a long win streak turned out to be worthy, and which ones didn’t quite.

Every long win streak in our current era is at least a little fake because of runaway parity and at least a little real because wins are still wins, but that doesn’t mean some can’t turn out to be more real than others. Let’s do this, starting with the teams that won a lot of games because they were actually good…

#30 and #29 (tie): Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Lightning, 2019-20

The team: While it may be hard to remember now, the Lightning struggled through the first two months of the season. Coming off their shocking loss in the first round in 2019, they won just 17 of their first 34 games in 2019-20.

The streak: The Lightning kicked off what would become a 10-game win streak on December 23; the stretch ran through January 11. They took a quick break to remember what losing felt like, didn’t like it, and then won 11 straight from January 29 through February 17.

But then: After the COVID pause, they came back in the bubble and won the Stanley Cup.

Fake factor: Two streaks in the same season that ends in a championship is about as un-fake as they come.

#28. Chicago Blackhawks, 2012-13

The team: Coming out of the lockout, the Blackhawks started the year 10-0-3. Then they somehow got better.

The streak: From February 15 through March 6, the Hawks won 11 straight, running their points streak to 24 games.

But then: When they lost 6-2 to the Avalanche on March 8, it was their first regulation loss in a regular season game in almost a full calendar year. Then they went out and won the Stanley Cup.

Fake factor: Everything about a lockout season is a tiny bit fake, but this team was unstoppable.

#27. St. Louis Blues, 2018-19

The team: Halfway through the season, they were in dead last in the league. You may have heard the rest of the story.

The streak: From January 23 to February 19, the Blues ran off 11 straight wins. At one point they also had three straight shutouts, just to show off.

But then: They slowed up a bit down the stretch, including losing five of seven at one point. But I hear that the playoffs went pretty well.

Fake factor: This is the streak that every mediocre team dreams of – the one that sure seems fake at the time, but turns out to be a legitimate Cup contender in hiding, revealing itself to the world.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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