Saad could suit up for Blackhawks Thursday

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Saad could suit up for Blackhawks Thursday

Brandon Saad was feeling the same emotions on Wednesday as he did when he was in the Blackhawks locker room back in September. Its a thrill for him to be here, exciting to get a chance to wear that jersey again.

And on Thursday, he just might get that chance.

Saad, who is just the second of six black aces called up to Chicago, could play when the Blackhawks host Phoenix in Game 4 of their first-round series, coach Joel Quenneville said today. The 19-year-old Saad, who was the Blackhawks second-round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, could fill the spot left by Marian Hossa, who is out after the hit he took from Raffi Torres in Game 3.

"Hes got some skill. And just looking at him physically today, theres a remarkable difference from camp and the stint he had at the start of the season. Hes filled out, bigger," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He had a pretty remarkable year and a great playoffs.

"We gave him a great opportunity to start this season," Quenneville continued. "He gives us some nice assets. The puck seems to follow him around.

Saad impressed the Blackhawks in training camp and made the season-opening roster. But after two games, he was sent back to the Ontario Hockey League and finished the season with the Saginaw Spirit. It was a good one: Saad scored a career-best 34 goals and had 76 points on the season. He also had a team-high rating of plus-35.

The Spirit were eliminated from the OHL playoffs on Saturday, opening the door for Saads return on the Blackhawks expanded roster.

They called me (Tuesday) night and told me to come up this morning. Im excited to be here, said Saad, who would love to be part of the Blackhawks postseason.

Everyone knows playoff hockey just picks it up a little bit. The NHL is a little bit faster. I hope (I can play).

Saad may just get his chance tomorrow night.

This is what I dream of. I want to make the NHL and play, he said. I got a taste of it at the start of the season and playoff hockey would be awesome to be a part of.

Rangers win riveting goaltending duel over Blackhawks in overtime

Rangers win riveting goaltending duel over Blackhawks in overtime

When Scott Darling and Antti Raanta vied for the Blackhawks’ backup goaltending job two seasons ago, there was definitely a strong competition. But it was still one built on respect.

“We had no bad blood in that situation,” Darling said on Friday. “We’ve remained friends. He’s having a great season and I’m happy for him.”

On this night, Raanta may have been just a bit happier.

Raanta stopped all 26 shots he saw against his former team, notching his first shutout of this season, and Nick Holden gave the New York Rangers a 1-0 overtime victory over the Blackhawks on Friday night. The Blackhawks are 1-2-1 in their last four games but remain atop the Western Conference with 38 points.

The Blackhawks were missing Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford in this one. Nevertheless, it was a tight game, one in which both goaltenders were stellar. Darling stopped 36 of 37 shots – Holden’s overtime winner was the first goaltender allowed to New York in two games against them.

Considering the players missing, the Blackhawks will take the point.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“With or without Toews, you’re always thinking when it’s in the third period and it’s close and getting inside 10 minutes, let’s get it to overtime,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve seen a ton of overtimes in the league. You gotta get the one point. We’ve had some success trying to get the extra one. Tonight, not, but that’s got to be the mindset.”

The Blackhawks were close to taking the 1-0 lead six minutes into the third period, when Marian Hossa thought he scored his 15th goal of the season. But the Rangers challenged for offside. Upon further review, the goal was nullified.

“Well, obviously that’s a tough one,” Hossa said. “I mean, I didn’t notice it was close to offside but obviously with today’s technology, with this new rule, it’s a game of inches. It’s slowing the game down, I think. You’re getting confused, what exactly the coaches are looking for. They created this new rule and we just have to deal with it. But sometimes it’s more frustrating because the league wants to increase the scoring and right now, I think more goals are disallowed because of this.”

Hartman, who had the pass to Hossa, was also disappointed but agreed with the review’s ruling.

“You get your excitement up a little bit and you try not to get too ahead of yourself when you know they are reviewing it. You just try to see it as both ways, if they do call it a goal, if they call it back,” Hartman said. “Obviously it was the right call. It was just a tough one.”

The Blackhawks will take the point out of this one. Despite the players they were without they played a solid game. They had good, quality scoring chances. Their current backup was just slightly bested by their previous one.

“Both [goalies] were great, both [teams] had excellent looks at the net,” Quenneville said. “We missed some good opportunities on 2-on-1s and they had some good looks around Darling as well. Both guys got their teams to overtime, got a point. It’s a good point if you want to look at it like that. I didn’t mind the way we played but Darls was excellent.”

Blackhawks preparing for EPIX all-access look leading up to Winter Classic

Blackhawks preparing for EPIX all-access look leading up to Winter Classic

The 2017 Winter Classic featuring the Blackhawks and Blues is right around the corner.

Players from both sides already squared off in a game of NHL 17 to generate some hype into the game, but nothing compares to behind-the-scenes footage of the two teams leading up to it.

Beginning Dec. 16 at 9 p.m., EPIX will air a one-hour episode each week that provides an all-access look inside the lives of the Blackhawks and Blues, on and off the ice.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The game will be on Jan. 2 at 12 p.m. on NBC, with the final episode airing Friday, Jan. 6.

Here's a two-minute preview involving the Blackhawks, who are labeled "A Good Bunch of Guys."