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Hawks must work hard to keep pace in rugged West

Updated: January 25, 2014 6:31AM



The Blackhawks have the highest-scoring team in the league, and have lost just seven times in regulation through the first three months. Yet the Hawks aren’t even the top team in the incredibly deep Western Conference, passed over by the Pacific Division’s red-hot Anaheim Ducks, who won their ninth consecutive game Monday.

“St. Louis isn’t far behind, either,” defenseman Johnny Oduya said. “That’s just the way it’s going to be. We’re just trying to win as many games as possible.”

Swapping sides

Brandon Saad has played right wing since Bryan Bickell returned from his knee injury. And while Saad said it’s been an adjustment, coach Joel Quenneville said he could switch back to his natural spot on the left side at any time, with Kris Versteeg (currently the second-line left wing) a logical person with whom to swap spots.

“I liked that option of him being over there and making our lines a little bit deeper down there,” Quenne-ville said. “I can see the lines changing, where he’ll get back on the left. But he’s been fine on the right.”

Sock it to him

Devils winger Jaromir Jagr, who’s been in the league since 1990, didn’t wear socks during the morning skate.

“I wear no socks in practice, I wear two [pairs of] socks in game — strange, huh?” he said. “I’ll tell you why. Because I don’t want to feel good in practice. I want to feel bad. So in the game, it’s mentally helping me. I feel bad, then I feel a lot better than [I do] in practice. That’s why I do it.”

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