It didn't take Brandon Saad long to earn the nickname of 'man-child' from teammate Patrick Sharp.
By the second game of the 2013 season, the 20-year-old found himself on the Blackhawks' top line alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa and he quickly proved he was right where he belonged. By the time the regular season came to a close, Saad had recorded 10 goals and 17 assists for the Blackhawks and was nominationed for the Calder Trophy (best rookie in the league).
He sat in the Blackhawks locker room Wednesday morning grinning from ear to ear after his team's final skatearound before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. He and his teammates were just hours away from the start of their series against the Boston Bruins, and the reality of it all was kicking in for Saad.
"It's been an unbelievable year. I never expected to be here, I'm just enjoying the moment," he said. "I feel good, it doesn't matter at this stage if you're a rookie or a veteran. You've got to come to play."
After facing some adversity this postseason, the Blackhawks made a number of changes that included shuffling Saad around lines. He's been adjusting, but has yet to record a goal in the playoffs. Now he hopes those points will be due at just the right time.
"Hopefully I'm saving them for this round," he said. "You never know, but just come out flying, playing my game and I'll create chances."
With playing in the Final comes added emotion and pressure, but Saad continues to try to avoid those extra factors as he makes his final preparations. He realizes the tremendous opportunity ahead of him and is ready to take advantage of it.
"It's my first season. So to be able to play at this stage (is unbelievable)," he continued. "A lot of the guys said 'just take advantage of it because you never know when it's gonna come around again.'"