It's official: The Chicago Blackhawks won't earn a point in every game they play this season.
"We're proud of it, but it'll be nice to move on now," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith told reporters after the team's point streak-snapping loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. Before that regulation defeat, the Blackhawks had taken at least a point from every game on the schedule. "It's hockey, we've lost games before in our lives. It's not like we're going to sit here and cry."
While Keith seemed not to be taking his team's first loss in regulation too hard, he could turn to members of the 1979-1980 Philadelphia Flyers if he needed any further perspective on the relative importance of a streak. Those Flyers put together an unbeaten run that stretched 35 games during the regular season, the longest such mark in North American professional sports.
"Streaks are wonderful," former Flyers winger Bob Kelly recently told The Associated Press. "But if you don't win [a championship], it's no good."
The Blackhawks looked plenty good as they opened the 2013 NHL season with a 24-game point streak, going 21-0-3. Although a loss to the Avalanche in their 25th game of the season ended the Blackhawks' bid to match the Flyers' mark, Chicago aims to claim the prize that eluded Philadelphia: The Stanley Cup.
Similarly, the defending NBA champion Miami Heat embarked on a lengthy winning streak running parallel to the Blachawks' run of points. To the approval of ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, the Heat streak contained no ties or overtime losses. The Heat need to extend its winning streak into April to top the 1971-1972 Lakers' NBA record of 33 straight wins. Led by Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, that legendary Lakers squad capped its historic season by winning a championship.
"I understand the history of the game. We should be happy and excited about the opportunity right now, with how many great teams, how many great players have come through this league," LeBron James told the South Florida Sun Sentinel after the Heat extended its streak to 18 games with a win over the Indiana Pacers. "And to be in that class is great, especially with this team. It is a special team."
While titles still matter most, James and his peers understand the power of a signature streak to define a team and establish the legacy of a particular group. Will the Heat be able to equal the Lakers' 33-game mark? Will the Flyers' 35-game record ever fall?
Here are eight of the more impressive unbeaten runs in sports history. From the multi-season dominance of the UCLA men and the UConn women in college basketball to the undefeated campaigns of the Dolphins and Arsenal, this bracket of memorable streaks contains representatives from across the wide world of sports.
Which will be the hardest to duplicate?