The mood in the Blackhawks’ locker room was quiet, but not terribly down.
The Blackhawks weren’t happy losing for the first time in regulation this season, a 6-2 decision to the Colorado Avalanche. But they certainly weren’t stomping mad or frustrated or any other truly negative emotion. Hard to get angry after you’re only loss in their first 25 games. It was more like, “OK, that was fun while it lasted. See you Sunday.”
“It’s over,” goaltender Corey Crawford said. “Move onto the next game.”
When the Blackhawks lost on Friday, their season-opening 24-game unbeaten streak was over. What’s also likely to be over is the tidal wave of attention and endless questions about that streak. And that, as far as the Blackhawks are concerned, isn’t such a bad thing.
“I’d say, maybe, with the last handful of games, the talk about it kind of got out of control,” Jonathan Toews said Friday night. “But through everything, the guys in the room always focused on the same things, and that was being prepared to play our team game.”
Indeed, the Blackhawks handled the pressure well. As the games approached and the target on their backs grew, the Blackhawks just focused on themselves. Still, the point(s)-every-game streak was going to end at some point. And when it did on Friday, it was almost as if normalcy did, too.
[HIGHLIGHTS: All good things come to an end]
As much normalcy you can get with a still-astounding 21-1-3 start, anyway.
The Blackhawks accomplished two things with their unbeaten streak. The first wasn’t part of the plan, the second definitely was. The Blackhawks established a new NHL record with their start, one that could stand for bit -- the Anaheim Ducks’ previous record of 16 straight without a regulation loss to start the season, stood for just six seasons.
But the record wasn’t the goal. Like every other team, the Blackhawks wanted to get out of the starting blocks fast in this lockout-shortened season. All good there. Entering Sunday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Blackhawks are atop the Western Conference with an eight-point lead over second-place Anaheim, which has also enjoyed one heck of a start.
So now the Blackhawks can get back to normal. That loss column finally has something other than a zero in it. The question of “how long could this go” has been answered. The goal of getting home-ice advantage in the playoffs remains the same for the Blackhawks. So does the focus that got them off to this great start in the first place.
“We never got distracted by it, so I don’t think it changed anything. If anything, maybe it takes pressure off us,” Toews said. “We can look at the good things we’ve done and also remind ourselves of the things that make us successful as a team, try to bring that back and finish off the week on a good note on Sunday.”