The Chicago Blackhawks have a chance to make NHL history against the San Jose Sharks on Friday night, attempting to become the first team to open the season with a point in each of its first 17 games.
And isn’t it funny how the Hockey Gods make these things happen?
To tie the record, set by the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks, the Blackhawks needed a shootout win against their archrivals, the Vancouver Canucks. To break the record, they’ll have to beat an old friend: Antti Niemi, the Sharks goalie that backstopped the Blackhawks to the 2009-10 Stanley Cup championship.
Niemi was 0-1-1 with a 3.41 GAA at United Center last season and was 1-1 with a 4.80 GAA in the previous season.
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, will get a boost from a healthy Marian Hossa – who left the Canucks game after a hit from behind by Jannik Hansen – and Dan Carcillo, who is ready for this first action of the season.
So is there a buzz in the Chicago room for this NHL record-breaking opportunity?
Sorta. The Blackhawks are trying to play it somewhat cool.
Via the Daily Herald, Patrick Sharp said:
"We're not even really downplaying it," winger Patrick Sharp said. "It's just not really an issue in here. It's pretty cool to be that close to an NHL record and we might talk about it (Friday) before the game, but we're just more focused on playing good.
"We've got a team that's been around the block a few times. We know that if you take your foot off the gas at any point in the season people will catch up to you, so we just want to keep on playing well."
Meanwhile, Patrick Kane told the Herald:
"To be honest with you, Game 15, it didn't seem like many guys were talking about it, but before last game a lot of us were sitting in the locker room and you start thinking about it a little bit," winger Patrick Kane said.
"We tied the record, and now I think a lot of guys want to do it. It's there for the taking so we might as well. But it's not like it accomplishes anything. It's just kind of a cool stat to say that you did."
All that stands in the way are the Sharks and a familiar face between the pipes.