Saad in Blackhawks' lineup tonight

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Saad in Blackhawks' lineup tonight

Brandon Saad will play tonight and theres been no change in Marian Hossas condition as the Chicago Blackhawks host the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series on Thursday.

Hossa is still resting and recovering from Game 3. Hes obviously out tonight, and Quenneville wasnt going to speculate on Hossas status past tonight.

For Phoenix, Martin Hanzal and Lauri Korpikoski are both ruled out tonight.

As far as the Blackhawks, they werent running forward lines on Thursday morning, so who knows where Saad will fit in. But coach Joel Quenneville knows what he gets with the young forward, and said he could be versatile among the top lines.

Well see how the game is, how hes handling it, Quenneville said. Theres a chance he could get some exposure with the top guys.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks will try to bottle their emotions regarding the Raffi Torres hit on Hossa and use them to their advantage. They did it last season when Torres hit Brent Seabrook, using that -- and the return of Dave Bolland -- to fuel them past an 0-3 start and push Vancouver into a seven-game series.

You see a hit like that, there are a lot of emotions that can come into check. You have to be careful about what youre doing and keep those emotions wrapped up as much as possible. Well try to do that tonight, Patrick Kane said. Obviously Torres isnt playing tonight (due to his indefinite suspension). Well try to play hockey and play the right way. Im sure itll be physical. Its playoff hockey. Well just go out there and try to play hockey do what we do best and try to win.

Phoenix expects the Blackhawks to bring the emotion -- and their best game.

Its controlled emotion. Im sure theyre talking about it, too, Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. They want to use it, play with it, but you cant let it control you. Its just making sure you stay in control and you push the game. You dont try to react to it.

For Corey Crawford, its a chance to reset and refocus. Crawford said he sat in the locker room for about 10 to 15 minutes after everyone else left the other night, as he was still frustrated with the overtime goal he allowed. But he said now its out of his system.

Ive forgotten about last game; I have to, Crawford said. We have a huge game to play tonight and I need to be prepared for that.

Why Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be 'pulling hard' for the Bears this season

Why Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be 'pulling hard' for the Bears this season

Jim Harbaugh is a former Chicago Bear, but that's not the main reason why he'll be rooting for the Monsters of the Midway this fall.

Harbaugh, the current Michigan head coach and former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, used to coach alongside current Bears assistants Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell in the Bay Area.

Fangio, the Bears' defensive coordiantor, and Donatell, the Bears' defensive backs coach, held those same positions for all four of Harbaugh's seasons leading the Niners.

[BEARS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Harbaugh voiced his support for his former assistants Monday, speaking with CSN's Pat Boyle at the Golf.Give.Gala golf outing in St. Charles.

"I know (the Bears) are going to have a heck of a defense," Harbaugh said. "Because I know they've got Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell and a tremendous coaching staff. So I'll be pulling hard for them."

Harbaugh also was asked about new Bears quarterback Mike Glennon, and you can hear his comments in the video above, as well as comments from Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer on another new Bears quarterback, Mitch Trubisky.

Notes from the rewatch: Nemanja Nikolic unable to beat Bill Hamid

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USA TODAY

Notes from the rewatch: Nemanja Nikolic unable to beat Bill Hamid

Two recent trends with the Chicago Fire got flipped in Saturday's win at D.C. United, not even counting that it was the Fire's first road win of the season.

Nemanja Nikolic entered Saturday's game at D.C. United as arguably the hottest striker in Major League Soccer. He had plenty of scoring chances, most of them good ones, but couldn't convert after being very efficient in recent games.

Also, D.C. is a team struggling offensively and entered without its top playmaker in Luciano Acosta, out serving a red card suspension, so it relied on set pieces and long throws to create scoring opportunities. That's something the Fire have had troubles with this year, notably in the LA game a few weeks ago. However, the defense held strong to survive the onslaught of balls into the box.

Here's more on those two things, plus Bastian Schweinsteiger's near assist of the year.

Defending set pieces

Without Acosta, D.C. found itself relying even more on free kicks, crosses and long throws to get the ball in the box. After recent struggles defending set pieces, this could have been a problem on paper for the Fire.

D.C. completed just three of 16 crosses and only one of those three led to a shot. Of D.C.'s three corner kicks, none first went to a D.C. player.

There were five more long throws, four from the left by Taylor Kemp and one from the right by Chris Korb. D.C. won flick headers on a pair of those, but nothing came from those chances. The best chance was when a ball fell to Patrick Mullins in the box following a deflection. He slid for an open shot in the box, but shot over the bar.

Overall, the Fire did well to handle the barrage of balls flung into the box from distance.

Nikolic's missed scoring opportunities

Nikolic still has the league lead in goals, even after not scoring in this one. His 10 goals are more than D.C. and the Fire's previous opponent, Colorado, have scored as teams.

He had seven shots, more than twice the amount of any other player on the field, and put four on target. No other player had more than one shot on target. Despite these numbers, Nikolic did not score.

Matt Polster gave him a good chance in the 29th minute. Nikolic's first-touch shot from 10 yards out was blocked. He hit it well, but it was a good block.

David Accam crossed to Nikolic on the back post just before halftime. Nikolic put the header on target, but didn't get enough on it to get it past goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

In the final 10 minutes things really picked up for Nikolic. He tried to round Hamid in the 81st minute, but couldn't get around the big man and then his shot from a tight angle was saved. Three minutes later Hamid made his best save with a diving stop to deny a streaking Nikolic, who was coming in from the right side.

Hamid gets credit for these stops, but Nikolic's best chance came in added time after Schweinsteiger set him up on a platter.

Schweinsteiger robbed of assist of the year

The biggest of Nikolic’s blown chances was Schweinsteiger’s elusive dribbling at the end line in added time. If Nikolic finished the open shot, it would have been one of the best assists you’d see in any league around the world this season. Instead the viral clips of the play were either truncated before Nikolic’s shoots over the bar or included the somewhat comedic finish to a highlight-reel play.

Schweinsteiger got a bit of the last laugh after suffering four fouls, no player was fouled more during the match, against a physical team.

This play got the most attention from Schweinsteiger's game and it could have really blown up had Nikolic finished it off. Don't forget that Schweinsteiger nearly gave D.C. a goal by turning the ball over with a lateral pass right to Lloyd Sam at the edge of the penalty box a few minutes after the Fire took the lead. That certainly would have flipped the prevailing view of Schweinsteiger's performance as well.