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Blackhawks take notice of Penguins’ win streak
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 this season, the Hawks are well aware of what’s happening in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins carry a 14-game win streak — not a point streak, a win streak — into Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders, and they’ve made all the big moves so far as the April 3 trade deadline approaches, adding Calgary’s Jarome Iginla, Dallas’ Brenden Morrow and San Jose’s Douglas Murray so far.
In fact, the Penguins took over the NHL points lead, a nearly unthinkable achievement just a few weeks ago when the Hawks were 21-0-3.
“Even though we haven’t played against those teams, you see about it, you see it every day,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “Again, no one’s going to have to play against those teams until the Stanley Cup Final, so it’s not like you’re as concerned about it. But all the trades, everything that happens, you’re very aware of what’s going on.”
Patrick Sharp grew up a Toronto Maple Leafs fan in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and has been paying closer attention to what’s been going on in the Eastern Conference than most.
“It is a little different, it’s almost like there’s two leagues now,” he said. “We don’t see them until the Stanley Cup Final, 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]. I like watching the Flyers and the Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs I grew up watching. 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.”
Penguins star Sidney Crosby is starting to run away with the Hart Trophy, distancing himself from the Hawks’ Patrick Kane and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos with a whopping 56 points (15 goals, 41 assists) in 35 games. Linemate Chris Kunitz is second in the league with 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists).
The 14-game point streak, and the incredible amount of star power on that roster — the 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’s 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 Miami Heat’s concurrent win streak. Now, people want to compare the Penguins’ streak to the Hawks’ magical run.
“Hey, to me, it’s just as impressive,” Sharp said. “I don’t know what it is about the shortened season of a so-called lockout year, but you’ve see a lot of these streaks. 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.”