Blackhawks assign Brandon Saad to juniorsContinue reading.
Blackhawks’ Brandon Saad hopes to respond to “wake-up call”
Joel Quenneville didn’t sit Brandon Saad down and have a long talk about what the winger needs to do, what areas of the game he needs to improve upon, or even why exactly he was scratched on Sunday to begin with.
“Pretty short talk,” Saad said. “Just refocus, get ready, and get back in the lineup.”
That’s because there was nothing blatantly wrong about the way Saad was playing of late. Yes, his production has been nearly non-existent — no goals and one assist in nine games — but his possession numbers and his defensive game have been mostly solid. Mostly.
Quenneville said he just saw an occasional dip in the effort, and wanted to send a quick message before it became a larger problem.
“He has pretty high standards of comparing his game to some guys,” Quenneville said. “And that consistency we’re accustomed to seeing was sporadic. Sometimes you’re not productive at the rate you’re normally accustomed to being at, but you still have to find ways to participate in our team game. He wasn’t at the level that he wants to see or we want to see. Just have to pick it up.”
That the standard is so high for a second-year player is a testament to just how good Saad has been since being thrust into the lineup in the second game last season. It’s also why the veterans haven’t been exactly rushing to Saad’s side to talk him through his first benching.
It’s just not needed.
“I have 10 years on Saader, so I feel like I’ve been through a few situations like that before,” Patrick Sharp said. “Early in my career I was a healthy scratch quite a bit with a different organization [the Philadelphia Flyers]. I’ve been down that road before, but I wasn’t as good as Saader was at that age — he’s got that on me, for sure. He’s more mature than I was. There’s not a whole lot that I can say to Saader that he doesn’t already know. He’s already a true professional who’s played 100-some games in his career. He’s not on the radar at all, we’re not worried about him at all.”
Saad will be back in the lineup Wednesday night when the Hawks host the Montreal Canadiens in their last home game of the regular season. While he’s hardly alone on the team in having a few off shifts over the last few weeks, and has been dealing with different linemates on a near nightly basis with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane out of the lineup, Saad called the benching “a wake-up call” and “a reality check.”
“You’ve been playing well, but you can always be better,” he said “As a young guy, it’s something that [Quenneville] teaches well, and that’s why young players have success here, because he expects the most out of them, and for them to play well.”
NOTEWORTHY: Patrick Kane skated after practice again, and could rejoin the team as early as Wednesday’s morning skate. He won’t play until the playoffs, though. … Johnny Oduya will be back in the lineup Wednesday after missing three straight games with a lower-body injury.