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Blackhawks keeping eye on Penguins

Updated: May 1, 2013 3:40PM



As far as the Blackhawks are concerned, the Eastern Conference might as well be playing in the Eastern Bloc this season. But even with the NHL scheduling only intraconference matchups, the Hawks are well aware of what’s happening in Pittsburgh.

The Penguins are on a 14-game winning streak, and they’ve made all the big moves as Wednesday’s trade deadline approaches, adding Calgary’s Jarome Iginla, Dallas’ Brenden Morrow and San Jose’s Douglas Murray.

In fact, the Penguins took over the NHL points lead Thursday, a nearly unthinkable achievement just a few weeks ago when the Hawks were 21-0-3.

“No one’s going to have to play against those teams until the Stanley Cup finals, so it’s not like you’re as concerned about it,” Jonathan Toews said. “But all the trades, everything that happens, you’re aware of what’s going on.”

Patrick Sharp grew up a Maple Leafs fan in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and has been paying closer attention to what has been going on in the Eastern Conference than most.

“It is a little different [this year]; it’s almost like there’s two leagues now,” he said. “We don’t see them until the Stanley Cup finals — hopefully. [But] I like to watch the Eastern Conference on TV more than I like to watch the West. It seems like everyone in the West, you play them every night. You’re more familiar with them. It’s more fun to see [the East]. . . . You have to admire the way Pittsburgh’s playing and what they’re doing to their lineup, trying to build up for a long playoff run.”

The winning streak, and the incredible amount of star power on that roster — Sidney Crosby is starting to run away with the Hart Trophy, and reigning MVP Evgeni Malkin just returned Thursday after missing nearly three weeks — has attracted all the attention of the national media. While the Hawks enjoyed their remarkable run, they’re not sad to see them go.

“We had our streak there, but it’s also nice to stay under the radar a little,” Brandon Saad said. “There are other great teams out there with their streaks, and the media’s always going to hype them up. I don’t pay too much attention to it, but you have the NHL [Network] on, it’s always going to be on there.”

When the Hawks were riding high, everyone wanted to compare their streak to the Heat’s concurrent winning streak. Now people want to compare the Penguins’ streak to the Hawks’ magical run.

“Hey, to me, it’s just as impressive,” Sharp said. “They’re winning games, with no sign of slowing down, and they’ve got some healthy guys back in their lineup. They’re going to be a team that I’m sure everyone is looking at as tops in the league.”



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