As the sports world is now well aware, the Chicago Blackhawks are on some kind of run. With at least one standings point in each of its first 22 games of the season, Chicago is in unprecedented territory. However, as one math professor explains, what the Blackhawks have done might be even rarer than we realize.
Kevin Allen of USA Today consulted with Richard Clearly, professor of mathematical sciences at Bentley University, to put the Blackhawks' season-opening streak into some greater context.
According to Crowley's estimates, the Blackhawks' run of 22 games with at least one point has a probability of occurring once every 700 years.
"It's the 'start of the season' thing that really makes it unlikely," he said. "The chance of some team getting points in 22 games in the row at some point in the season is much higher."
In other words, because an NHL team usually plays an 82-game schedule, it has 60 chances to start a 22-game streak of not losing in regulation. But a team has one opportunity to begin the season with a 22-game streak.
Some have tried to compare the Blackhawks' 19-0-3 run to other teams in other sports, but these numbers from Crowley put the streak in a stratosphere all its own.
Here's how Cleary came to his eye-popping conclusion:
Cleary, who teaches a math and sports course at his university, based the probability of the streak on the fact that a top NHL team earns a point in about 75% of its games. The math, he says, works out to a probability of it happening between one and two times every 1,000 years. "Randomness is a lot streakier and clumpier than people expect," he said.
So enjoy this one while it lasts, sports fans. The next time this happens, they might be playing hockey on Mars.