By Rob Ficiur
The NBA’s Golden State Warriors have the set many records with their 23-0 start to the regular season. Prior to their 23 game winning streak, the longest unbeaten streak to start a season was an eighteen game streak put on by the New York Nicks. The Warriors ten game winning streak on the road to start a season also set a new record.
The longest winning streak in NBA history was 33 games set by the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers. The second longest winning streak is 27 games set by the 2013 Miami Heat. The Heat were the defending champions when they set the record. Both the ’72 Lakers and the ’13 Heat went on to win the NBA championship that year.
The Warriors current run may allow them to beat the all time. The best NBA record over a full season was the 1996 Chicago Bulls with a 72-10 record (second best teams were the 1997 Bulls and the 1972 LA Lakers 69-13.) That 1972 Lakers team was the one that set had the 33 game winning streak.
The Toronto Raptors nearly beat the undefeated Warriors twice this season. On November 12 the Raptors lost 115-110 in golden state. Last week the Warriors won in Toronto by three points. The Raptors led in the last minute before letting it slip away. In only four of their 24 wins have the Warriors’ opponent been within four points of Golden State. The Toronto Raptors played two of those very close games against the defending champs.
In the National Football League the Carolina Panthers are 12-0, three quarters of the way through their season. Two weeks ago the New England Patriots were 10-0 (tied with the Panthers) but they have since hit a two game losing streak.
Only two NFL teams in history have had perfect winning seasons. The 1972 Miami Dolphins were a 14-0 on their way to a Super Bowl championship. In 2007 the New England Patriots beat the Dolphins by compiling a 16-0 regular season record. (The schedule had gone from fourteen to sixteen games in the intervening years). Those Perfect Patriots of 2007 are remembered as the team that let it get away. Up late in the fourth quarter, with a Super Bowl all but assured, somehow the New York Giants completed a frantic last play drive to set up the inning points. While it is the longest single season winning streak, fans count what happened in the playoffs too.
The last time a Canadian Football League team had a perfect record was when the 1948 Calgary Stampeders went 12-0. Those Stamps went on to win the ’48 Grey Cup. The next season they were 13-1 (notice the lengthened season) The 1948 & 1949 Stampeders put together a record 22 regular season victories in a row. HOWEVER, the 1949 Stampeders lost the 1949 Grey Cup game…so being nearly perfect wasn’t good enough.
In the world of hockey Chicago’s left wing super star Patrick Kane is putting together an amazing 26 game point streak. This week Kane past a Hawks team record set by Bobby Hull in 1972-73 (which was Hull’s last year with the Hawks before he went to the WHA and the Winnipeg Jets). Kane’s streak is longest ever by an American born player.
Patrick Kane was leading the NHL in scoring last year when he injured his shoulder. After coming back from injury he led his Black Hawks to their third Stanley Cup in six years; Kane tied for league lead in playoff points. While scoring is not new to Kane, his consistency over the last two seasons is putting him in a class of his own.
Kane’s 25 game point streak ties Sidney Crosby’s record for the longest scoring streak since the 2005 NHL lockout. Only five players have had scoring streaks over twenty games since the lockout and the new rules that came with it. (the other players are Henrik Zetterbeg 24, Dany Heatly 22 and Paul Stasny 20.
Patrick Kane’s consecutive point streak does not even compare those streaks from the high scoring NHL era. Wayne Gretzky scored 61 goals and 92 assists in his first 51 games of the 1983-84 season. Patrick Kane is barely half way to Gretzky’s unbreakable record. The top ten consecutive point streaks all took place between 1982-1992, when high scoring games were the norm. Three of the top five consecutive point streaks in NHL history belong to Wayne Gretzky, (the other two going to Mario Lemieux and Matts Sundin).
Patrick Kane’s scoring streak has helped lead his Chicago Black Hawks to comfortable playoff spot in the Central Division. Overall the defending Stanley Cup champions rank 9th in NHL standings at this time. A month ago the Hawks were out of a playoff spot, so they are trending in the right direction to defend their championship.
What happened to the NHL players who set records for scoring in consecutive games? In 1984 Wayne Gretzky and his Oilers won their first Stanley Cup defeating the four time Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders. Mario Lemieux’s 46 game scoring streak did not do much for the 1989-90 Penguins, as they missed the playoffs. (Mario did win the next two Stanley cups). Wayne Gretzky had a 39 games point streak in 1985-86. That Oilers team lost in the second round to the Calgary Flames thanks to Steve Smith’s shot into his own net. Wayne Gretzky’s 30 game scoring streak in 1982-83 help propel his team to their first Stanley Cup finals; where they lost to the Islanders four straight.
These consecutive streaks we are watching this week capture the fans’ attention. How long can they go on? Sometimes these teams go on and win it all. If they fall short, even just short, the records don’t shine as brightly.