“How good it felt to work hard and win as many games as we did or get points in as many games as we did,” goaltender Corey Crawford said. “I think definitely we can look back on that if there was a time when things get tough and aren’t going our way.”
To pick up points in that many games, the bounces had to go the Blackhawks’ way often. They went 13-0-3 in one-goal games.
“In playoffs, it’s usually going to be one-goal games, and I think we have that confidence this year more than we had in the past to win those tight games and not be afraid of making a mistake and kind of going for it instead,” Stalberg said.
But that’s not even giving the Blackhawks enough credit. They outscored opponents 75-43 before a March 8 loss to the Colorado Avalanche and fired up a city that experienced a hockey renaissance a few years earlier.
“It’s nice to see friends do well. It’s nicer that they’re in the other conference doing well,” said Washington Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer, who played three full seasons in Chicago and won the Cup in 2010. “I know it’s good for the city. I was treated well by the city, by the fans, so for them to be able to have something to cheer about, I enjoy that.”
Chairman Rocky Wirtz deserves credit for putting games back on television, Brouwer said, and the Cup went a long way to reminding Chicago fans why they loved the Blackhawks, who hadn’t won it all since 1961.
Now it’s common for more than 22,000 fans to pack United Center, also known as the “Madhouse on Madison.”
“I guess I’ve been here for all the good stuff,” Stalberg said. “It’s been great. It’s a full house every night, the fans are always excited. … It’s always going to be a sellout crowd, and they’re crazy about it.”
Hardly ever losing helps build up that kind of love between a city and a team. Inside a locker room full of veterans and players who have won such as captain Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, streaks like what the Blackhawks put together breed confidence.
“You see you’re capable of winning and winning all the time,” Saad said. “It’s obviously nice for your confidence to think back of when you had success, and how we can have success as a team.”
There is a danger in reflecting too much on 24 games without a regulation loss, especially now when the Blackhawks are considered favorites to come out of the Western Conference.
“I think you look around our locker room now, whether it’s a first-year guy or a 17-year veteran, everyone’s focused on playing our best hockey come playoff time,” Sharp said.