For the NHL teams that didn't bolt out of the gate like Secretariat on a mission, one glance at the top of the standings is likely a cause for apprehension.

The Blackhawks' scorching start — 15 games without a regulation loss to put them one away from the league record set by the Ducks to kick off the 2006-07 season — could be the beginning of a season for the ages.

Inevitably, the Hawks will lose a game in regulation this season. Whether that occurs Tuesday night when they face the archrival Canucks at the United Center or sometime after tying or setting the record, the hot start is, historically, an indicator the Hawks will be in this thing for the long haul.

NHL season starts of this magnitude resulted in Stanley Cup championships for that Ducks team, the 1984-85 Oilers (15), '43-44 Canadiens (14) and '72-73 Canadiens (13).

The Penguins began the lockout shortened '94-95 season 12-0-1 but went 17-16-2 the rest of the way to finish second in the Northeast Division and were bounced in the second round of the playoffs.