Brandon Saad figured he was close to busting out of his goal-scoring drought.
The Blackhawks forward was playing just fine; he just wasn’t finding the back of the net. Still, he felt he was doing enough right that he would break through eventually.
Eventually hit on Sunday.
Saad scored two goals, the first proving to be the game-winner, as the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild, 4-1, to go up 2-0 in their second-round series. Saad, who hadn’t scored since March 12 against Colorado, added an empty-net goal with 1:23 remaining in regulation to seal it. But coach Joel Quenneville has liked what Saad’s brought regardless of points.
“It’s certainly nice to see him score, but the way he’s playing, we’ll take it whether he has production or not,” Quenneville said. “He really added a lot of elements to our team game with his speed, with that line being effective, we’re comfortable playing him against anybody. He had the puck a lot, backed off the D, but the finish was nice to see. It was a very timely (goal).”
Saad, who was on the third line with Joakim Nordstrom and Marcus Kruger on Sunday, sensed those goals would come soon enough.
“I was feeling better and better every game. I’m just sticking with the little things,” he said. “I figured it was only a matter of time. It’s nice to get a couple here tonight.”
It took longer for Saad to score last postseason; his first goal didn’t come until Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins. But again, it’s not necessarily about scoring. Saad is a big body, and he’s not afraid to throw it around and get in the middle of puck battles. The “man-child,” who’s becoming more of the former than the latter, keeps winning his teammates’ respect.
“I keep telling him every night he's a monster with that puck,” Toews said. “When he's on his game he keeps his feet moving through traffic and he’s slippery. For his size and power, he’s able to somehow get around guys and keep the puck on his stick. He’s making some great plays. I think when he plays like that he’s opening up room for everyone else. I think that’s why he’s had so many helpers, so far, but it’s nice to see him get on the board. To see one go in is a good feeling for anybody."
No, it might not be completely necessary for Saad to score, especially if the rest of his game is working as it is. Still, anytime the Blackhawks can garner production from their depth, it’s a good thing.
“He’s a force,” Bryan Bickell said. “He’s a very powerful forward; he can make plays out of nothing. He has a work ethic that looks like it’s getting better every year. He’s still young, believe it or not with the way he looks, but it’s good. We need guys like that to help carry this team.”