When Brandon Saad is at his best he’s an integral part of the Chicago Blackhawks.
He’s proven he can play either wing and on any line, and he’s done well no matter where he’s been placed. But Saad has been quiet in recent outings, not nearly as noticeable. So on Sunday, Saad took a seat.
Saad was a healthy scratch, what coach Joel Quenneville called a “coach’s decision,” as the Chicago Blackhawks went on to beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 at the United Center. It was a bit of a surprise; yet considering his stats as of late, it’s understandable. Saad, who missed three games with an upper-body injury, as just one assist and is a minus-6 in his last seven games.
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Quenneville said the Blackhawks need more from the 21-year-old Saad down the stretch.
“We like tough decisions and we welcome them. This wasn’t one. So we’re looking for tougher ones as we go along,” Quenneville said of the benching. “When we put the lineup together we want consistency and playing the right way.”
He also said Saad could be struggling to get his game back after that injury.
“Guys who are scorers and productive, they’re used to getting that good feeling when you have something to measure your play with,” he said. “But playing the right way is something we reinforce, and he never got one of those shifts or games where he was rolling, comfortable with the puck and playing with the pace we’re accustomed to seeing.”
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Still, don’t look for the benching to last long. Quenneville said he expects Saad to play Wednesday night when the Blackhawks host the Montreal Canadiens.
“We expect him to be a big piece of our team. We expect him back the next game and playing his game,” Quenneville said of Saad. “We still have three games to go and we’re still banking on him to be a big part of it.”