Brandon Saad has spent the past two scrimmages adjusting to the center spot. And while there are some growing pains with a position he’s never played before, Saad said he’s feeling better with each opportunity there.
“I felt better today than yesterday,” he said after Saturday’s scrimmage with Team B; he again centered Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. “Yesterday was a new experience. Talking with the coaches, position-wise, playing today there I felt much better.”
Coach Joel Quenneville agreed.
“He looks all right,” he said. “He seems like he has the puck, has play recognition there. Defensively, that's continued to be a work in progress, but I like him there right how, so we'll see.”
Saad knew ahead of time that working on faceoffs was priority. But Quenneville has said there’s always the option to throw a better faceoff person in the circle; Sharp certainly could. But there are some other adjustments for Saad, too, that just come with his being a wing his entire career.
“Getting ahead of the play,” he said. “You have to slow yourself down and think more. Not getting ahead of the play and supporting the wingers is what I need to do. It’s new, but I’m feeling better at it.”
HEAT OF THE MOMENT
The final scrimmage ended with fisticuffs, as Duncan Keith and Ben Smith fought near the end of Team A and Team C’s matchup this afternoon. Afterward, both players brushed it off as something that happens from time to time.
“It’s just one of those things, it’s part of the game. I’m just happy no one got hurt out there,” said Smith, who injured his hand in an AHL fight last season. “We’re competitors and we’re out there to compete and work hard. For me, I’m trying to win a spot here.”
Keith said, “I’m just a competitive person. That’s the way I play the game. It’s just part of the game, right?”
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Quenneville said he was putting his skates on for the day’s final practice with Team A when the fight occurred, but he wasn’t concerned about it.
“I've seen more fights than just one in a camp in the past. Some days you see several,” he said. “It's all part of it.”
Captain Jonathan Toews did not practice or scrimmage on Saturday but Quenneville said Toews is “much better.”
“He wanted to skate today, but we’ll make sure we're more than ready with him,” Quenneville said.
Toews is unlikely to skate on Sunday, when the Blackhawks wrap up the Notre Dame portion of their training camp.