Saad hoping to bank on 'huge' potential


Saad hoping to bank on 'huge' potential

Brandon Saad has been here before, done this before.

The Pittsburgh native was the big surprise out of the Blackhawks 2011 training camp, earning a roster spot right out of the gate. It was a tremendous experience for the 20-year-old, one that gave him an early taste of professional hockey and all that comes with it.

It was definitely a whirlwind, said Saad. Its tough to make it here at that young of an age. But with injuries and stuff, I got the opportunity and it was fun.

That opportunity should make this attempt to make the 2013 Blackhawks a little easier. Well, sort of. Yes, Saad is used to the big stage, to the competition that training camp can bring. But with camp much shorter, few open spots and tight competition, Saad will be fighting for a spot out of camp again this season.

Saad is enjoying his first year of pro hockey regardless. Playing the last four months in Rockford, Saad has had his good stretches, including this past weekend. He tallied six points in two games, including the overtime game-winning goal against the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday night.

First-year pro, so its definitely been different and a challenge there, Saad said. But its definitely helped my game.

Coach Joel Quenneville, who got to watch Saad in Rockford through the fall and early winter, said Saads potential is huge.

He had some stretches where he was great, others where he was just OK. But hes coming off an outstanding weekend and hes capable of playing at our level, Quenneville said. He showed he can handle playing here but well see right now, whether its about numbers or opportunity. But he can play, and can play with top guys as well.

Where Saad fits in is still uncertain. The Blackhawks are healthy and deep right now, and there are a few guys from Rockford fighting for a job here. But Saad has been here before, done this before. And could do it again.

I definitely got my feet wet last year, so it feels a little different with the confidence, he said. I really feel good. Ive been playing hockey all year, so I hope I have that advantage.

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

The Blackhawks hit the road on Thursday, and they did so in style.

In support of the Cubs participating in the World Series for the first time since 1945, each member of the Blackhawks sported a Cubs jersey and World Series hat as they hopped onto the plane and traveled to New Jersey.

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

It may not have been as whacky as Joe Maddon's themed road trips, but it's still a perfect excuse for breaking the dress code just this once.

Check out the photos below:

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

When coach Joel Quenneville has put Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together it’s usually been during the postseason.

It’s rare when it happens in the regular season and when it does, it seems like an in-case-of-emergency move. But in this case, it may be more of a get-the-captain’s-production-going move.

The Blackhawks made a few more line changes on Thursday, including combining Toews and Kane, as they prepared for Friday night’s game at the New Jersey Devils. Marian Hossa moved to right wing on the second line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. Marcus Kruger and Nick Schmaltz flip-flopped as third- and fourth-line centers. Tyler Motte and Ryan Hartman were the third-line wings while Dennis Rasmussen and Jordin Tootoo were on the fourth line.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the line changes, including Kane’s move to the first line, were because the Blackhawks continue to look for balance. To a point, that’s true; the Blackhawks still haven’t come close to getting that four-line rotation with which they’ve found so much success. But considering how successful the Toews and Kane combination has been for each, you’d have to think it’s to help bolster Toews’ point totals. Toews has just two assists through the first seven games.

“Right now I think Jonny, his production isn’t where you look at his play – we still always like the way he plays, he’s so useful in so any different ways,” Quenneville said. “I think maybe we get more balance on both lines. We’ve been trying a number of different looks in our top two groups there. over seven games we still need to be better in a lot of ways. hopefully we can find it.”

Still, if you can get your top players producing points, it’s worth a try. And Kane and Toews, regardless of how long they’ve been apart, usually click immediately upon reuniting.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

“Yeah, I guess change can be good in this sense. We can probably produce a little bit more offense and have the puck a little bit more throughout the game,” Kane said. “I’ve played with Jonny a bunch before. Obviously, not as much lately. But I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a fun way to play hockey. Obviously he’s one of the best players in the game, and probably in my mind, the easiest player to play with. It’ll be fun to get back out there with him and try to create something, try to produce and have some fun with it.”

As for that usual second line of Panarin, Anisimov and Kane, remember: as we’ve seen before, it can be put together again fast.

“They get a lot of shifts and a lot of looks. It’s not like we’re too far away from going back to it at any time. It’s always close and available,” Quenneville said. “Maybe we get more balance and a little more scoring across the board.”


- Defenseman Gustav Forsling (upper body) did not skate on Thursday and will not travel to New Jersey. Quenneville is still hoping Forsling can play on Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Kings.

- Forward Andrew Desjardins (lower body) continues to improve. Quenneville said Desjardins could be skating in the next day or so.

- Corey Crawford will start vs. the Devils.