The 2013 sports year has been chock full of impressive winning streaks, from the Chicago Blackhawks opening the NHL season by setting a record, earning at least one point in 24 consecutive games, to the Miami Heat’s 27-game win streak, which was recently highlighted at The Wife Hates Sports.
Not to be outdone, the Pittsburgh Penguins are recently on a tear, winning fourteen straight games, a feat that currently stands three wins behind the NHL record set by, you guessed it, the Pittsburgh Penguins (in 1993). Current co-owner of the Penguins, Mario Lemieux, led that record-setting squad.
Chicago’s early season run only featured a win streak that went for eleven straight, while three shootout defeats were mixed within.
Pittsburgh’s streak started following two ugly losses to the Panthers and Hurricanes at the end of February. The first win – a wild 7-6 overtime victory over Montreal – got the ball (make that puck) rolling. The run has been well balanced, with the offense, defense and goaltending all contributing during key stretches. In the first four wins, the Pens gave up a bloated total of 17 goals, but over the next ten victories, Pittsburgh has given up just nine total goals, posting three shutouts, including in the last two games over Montreal and Winnipeg.
Offensively, the Penguins have the talent and the weapons to match the streak of the 1993 team, with a good chance of breaking it. Pittsburgh has four players that have scored 15 or more goals this season (Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, James Neal and Chris Kunitz).
To top that off, the rich got richer after the Pens traded for Jarome Iginla on Wednesday night.
When star players get moved to other franchises, it is often argued that team chemistry will be negatively affected. With Iginla, it doesn’t appear as such, as the former headliner of the Calgary Flames waived his no-trade clause to come to Pittsburgh, and appears willing and ready to play on whichever line the team chooses to put him on.
Chemistry aside, Iginla adds obvious offensive firepower, having scored 28 goals or more in each season dating back to ’98-’99.
To tie the NHL record, the Penguins will have to defeat the Islanders on March 30th, the Sabres on April 2nd and the Rangers on Wednesday April 3. The record-breaking victory would also be against the Rangers on Friday April 5th.
Pittsburgh’s 14-game win streak has also featured the following:
- Six victories over three teams in the top ten of KP’s latest edition of NHL Power Rankings (Boston, Montreal and Toronto).
- Goalie balance: Six wins by Tomas Vokoun and eight by Marc-Andre Fleury
- The Penguins were perfect in penalty kills during nine of the fourteen games
- Opponents had more shots than Pittsburgh in six of the fourteen games
- Eleven of the wins came in regulation, with two others in overtime and one via a shootout
- Three of the victories were shutouts, all at home (versus the Rangers, Canadiens and Jets)
- Only five of the wins were by more than one goal
Finally, the following is how each team fell in the most recent edition of NHL Power Rankings at The Wife Hates Sports, with the aforementioned Penguins being a fairly obvious choice for first place – but not by much, as the Blackhawks are a close second. The teams highlighted in RED are all victims during Pittsburgh’s current 14-game win streak.
KP’s NHL Power Rankings: March 29, 2013
*Stats and figures as of March 29, 2013 at 5pm Eastern
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (137 points)
2. Chicago Blackhawks (135 points)
3. Montreal Canadiens (107 points)
4. Boston Bruins (94 points)
5. Anaheim Ducks (93 points)
6. Vancouver Canucks (82 points)
7. Minnesota Wild (79 points)
8. Ottawa Senators (76 points)
9. Los Angeles Kings (69 points)
10. Toronto Maple Leafs (68 points)
11. Detroit Red Wings (52 points)
12. St. Louis Blues (47 points)
13. San Jose Sharks (37 points)
14. New York Islanders (34 points)
15. New Jersey Devils (33 points)
16. Winnipeg Jets (32 points)
17. New York Rangers (32 points)
18. Washington Capitals (28 points)
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (23 points)
20. Carolina Hurricanes (20 points)
21. Dallas Stars (19 points)
22. Edmonton Oilers (15 points)
23. Phoenix Coyotes (15 points)
24. Nashville Predators (12 points)
25. Columbus Blue Jackets (6 points)
26. Buffalo Sabres (2 points)
27. Calgary Flames (-4 points)
28. Philadelphia Flyers (-11 points)
29. Colorado Avalanche (-35 points)
30. Florida Panthers (-41 points)
* All stats per NHL.com and ESPN.com
The Wife Hates Sports’ NHL Power Rankings system has a method to its madness, attempting to be different and not just rank by popularity and record. It mixes a secret formula of six completely different categories, meshed into a points system. The categories don’t just include team results regarding record, but how each team has performed recently, as well as incorporating some statistics on both a team’s offense and defense, too.