Brandon Saad is familiar with playing on the top line. Perhaps he’s not used to playing there on the right wing, but that’s not going to be that big of an adjustment. Left side, right side, any side, Saad fit in well on the Chicago Blackhawks’ top forward line last season. Now he’s back there tonight.
Saad will fill the injured Marian Hossa’s right-wing spot when the Blackhawks host the Colorado Avalanche tonight at the United Center. Saad had a great rookie season as the Blackhawks’ top-line left wing last season, blending well with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Switching to the right was a bit new this season, but Saad said he’s adjusted after playing there on the third line.
Now, it’s about taking advantage of the top-line opportunity again, this time as a more seasoned player.
“There’s more confidence. You grow as a player,” Saad said of his sophomore stint. “Going through what I did last year and the success we had, I’m definitely more comfortable and confident out there. I’m feeling good (playing on the right side) and looking forward to the opportunity.”
Saad got his feet re-wet on the top line on Saturday after Hossa was injured. The three meshed well, and Toews said they hope to continue that.
“He works hard, is a big body and I said last year he was just improving every single game he played. He’s got that vision, that ability to make little plays and he understands how to keep plays alive and use the guys you’re out there with. We made a few good plays the other night in the snow, so we’ll see what we can do on ice that’s a little bit better.”
Saad has bounced around the lineup a bit, from second line to third line, left wing to right wing. No matter where he’s been, he’s been good. Saad has 18 goals and 23 assists this season and is a plus-27. Coach Joel Quenneville said his versatility and consistency have been two of Saad’s biggest assets.
“We’ve used him in a different role and on the right side as well and I don’t mind him there,” Quenneville said. “He gives us some versatility, a presence on a line that’s a threat to score and makes people around him on that line dangerous as well. He adapts to whomever he plays with, like (Patrick Kane). He stepped in and did an outstanding job the other night.”