There are some people arguing that the Blackhawks’ 24-game points streak is less impressive than the Heat’s 17-game win streak.
After all, they contend, a loss in overtime is a loss. Therefore, a points streak cannot possibly measure up to a win streak.
There’s an allure to this line of thinking, but it’s an oversimplification. It’s mistaking a definition for deduction, and confusing rhetoric for reason.
It ignores the issue of degree of difficulty.
Why? Because it is as hard to record a point in hockey as it is to win an NBA game. In a lower-scoring sport, the chances that one fluke play will end a streak is infinitely greater than the odds that one missed shot will cost a basketball team.
That’s why the longest points streak in the history of the NHL (35 games) is only slightly longer than the record NBA win streak (33 games).
However, there are ways mathematically that we can analyze whether what’s happening in Chicago is as much of a feat as what makes ESPN analysts wax poetic in Miami.
If you average out the records of the teams Chicago has faced during their 24-game stretch, the end result would be a squad with 11 wins, 9 losses and 4 overtime losses, ie. a team that would place 9th in the Western Conference.
Do the same for the Heat, and you get a team with 29 wins and 32 losses. That would be the 8th best record in the West.
You might think this gives Miami the edge.
However, while some have belittled the Blackhawks’ accomplishment because they have only played within their conference, the fact is 11-9-4 is the 17th best record in the entire league.
At the same time, 29-32 would place a team 18th in the NBA.
If you wanted to again oversimplify things, you could say that–during their respective streaks–both the Blackhawks and Heat have played half their games on the road.
Let’s dive a little deeper into those numbers, though.
The Hawks have visited an opponent in the Pacific Time Zone three times. They’ve made three trips to arenas in the Mountain Time Zone. Two times, they’ve traveled to sites in the Eastern Time Zone.
The Heat have left their time zone a total of three times, and all of those have been to see their neighbors in the Central.
HOW CLOSE TO THE RECORD?
The 1979-1980 Flyers went 25-0-10 at one point, and Chicago is 69 percent of the way there.
The Lakers in 1971-72 won 33 straight, and Miami has achieved 52 percent of that.
The Heat don’t even have the longest streak in the NBA this season. That would still be the Clippers, who didn’t receive quite as much publicity when they won 17 in a row.
The Blackhawks didn’t have an exhibition season to prepare for the 2013 campaign. Heck, their training camp was abbreviated. Yet they’ve jumped into things successfully. They’ve played games without Marian Hossa and Brent Seabrook. Dave Bolland missed six games due to an upper body injury. Plus, goalie Corey Crawford was hurt and had to leave a game against St. Louis in the first period. On top of all that, Chicago is dealing with what is an unusal challenge for them in a compressed schedule.
Miami, on the other hand, has had time to gel and build chemistry. LeBron James has a little bit of a banged up knee, but he’s still playing.
And the final piece of proof that Chicago currently has the advantage when it comes to assembling the more impressive streak? Stephen A. Smith thinks otherwise.