No sadness from Blackhawks’ Joel Quenneville over Brandon Saad’s lack of goals
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Shaw, Josh Harding, Bryan Bickell
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Brandon Saad is playing on the top line on one of the hottest teams in hockey, alongside two of the best players in the world. And he doesn’t have a point yet.
He also hasn’t heard much from Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville about it.
“That’s something I realized here — the less they say, the better,” Saad said. “Just keep working, and it’ll come.”
In fact, Quenneville is quite pleased with the play of the 20-year-old rookie winger, who had 11 shots on goal in the first five games since he replaced the injured Daniel Carcillo after the season opener.
Against Dallas, he had five and was buzzing around the net and creating chances for linemates Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews.
And that’s what Quenneville wants to see. If Saad keeps playing like that, the points will come.
“He’s not just getting chances, he’s getting some A-grade quality chances around the net,” Quenneville said. “I’m not going to put a number on it as far as [how many goals he needs] to score, or how long he’s going to be there. But to me, he hasn’t done anything wrong.” Still, Saad knows he can’t be pointless forever and keep his spot.
“Playing with those two guys, chances are definitely going to come,” he said. “I’m going to need to bury some.”
One factor playing against Saad is the limited practice time he’s getting with his new linemates during the compressed post-lockout schedule. He’s also been wary of getting caught flat-footed and watching the two stars to his left play, and of being too eager to get them the puck rather than keep it himself when an opportunity presents itself.
Toews and Hossa have been telling him to “keep it simple” and “play your game,” and Saad is doing his best to follow that advice.
“It’ll come,” he said.
Michal Rozsival was back on the ice for Wednesday’s morning skate, but was scratched for the game.
He skated significantly longer than his teammates did in the morning in an effort to build his conditioning back up after hurting his knee against Dallas. Rozsival said he’s 100 percent, physically.
“Everything is fine,” he said. “Just trying to get my conditioning back up and hopefully I’ll be back on the ice in a game soon.”
Sheldon Brookbank has played in his stead, but Rozsival — who was playing well when he got hurt — wasn’t worried.
“It’s a part of the game,” he said. “It’s not really frustrating at all, things like that happen. I’ve been through this before, so I know how it is. It’s part of the job.”
Carcillo on target
Carcillo is still on the monthlong rehab timetable that Quenneville initially put him on when he hurt his knee in the season opener at Los Angeles.
Quenneville said Carcillo is working out back home, and his workouts are getting more intense as he gets stronger.
He’s still about three weeks away from returning.
One who got away
One of Minnesota’s star offseason acquisitions, Zach Parise, was strongly pursued by the Hawks. Parise entered Wednesday’s game with five goals and four assists in six games, but Quenneville wasn’t lamenting what might have been.
“We’ve got our group here and we’re very happy with what we have here,” he said.
“That’s the business. We had a couple years where we lost a lot of players, and this summer we had a couple additions [Brookbank and Rozsival], so we’re very pleased with where we’re at.”