Blackhawks rookie forward Brandon Saad among three finalists for Calder Trophy
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org May 6, 2013 6:54PM
Best of seven
Updated: June 8, 2013 6:34AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. — When Brandon Saad got the call from his agent Monday morning and was told he was one of three finalists for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top rookie, it was just another head-shaking moment in a season full of them for the 20-year-old winger.
“The whole year has kind of been like that,” Saad said. “Just looking to make the team at the beginning, and being fortunate enough to play on this great team with such great players has helped out a lot.”
Saad was tied for fifth among rookies with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists), but his plus-17 rating led all first-year players. After a frustrating start to the season in which he was generating chances but not points, Saad caught fire in March, racking up 23 of his points over the final 27 games.
The other finalists are Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher (15 goals, 13 assists) and Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau (14 goals, 17 assists).
“It’s awesome,” said Saad’s linemate Marian Hossa. “Hopefully he’s going to go all the way.”
Saad has been held without a point through three playoff games this season — as has his center, Jonathan Toews. Hossa has a power-play goal and a secondary assist.
“It’s a little frustrating that we’re not playing our best,” Saad said. “When we do play our best, the points will come.”
Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo was “very disappointed” that 19-year-old defenseman Jonas Brodin wasn’t a Calder finalist.
“We’re here battling in the playoffs,” Yeo said. “And it’s hard to say we would be here if he was not on our team.”
Said Brodin: “I don’t focus on that. I’m just focused on the playoffs right now. They’re good players, the three guys there.”
Cheaters never prosper
The Wild won 40 of 72 faceoffs in Game 3 after the Hawks held a slight edge at the dot over the first two games. Yeo said the Wild took advantage of matchups better at home after the Hawks “did a pretty good job of cheating” during the first two games in Chicago.
Joel Quenneville’s response: “We can argue that one for a while.”
Both coaches agreed there were an inordinate amount of players tossed out of the face-off circle in Game 3, with Wild captain Mikko captain getting a stern talking-to from linesmen a handful of times while winning 15 of 20 draws.
Yeo said he never got an adequate explanation from the officials.
“I might have said a couple things, but it wasn’t much of a conversation,” he said.
Hawks goalie Ray Emery returned to practice on Monday, but he won’t dress for Game 4. He missed three games with a lower-body injury and then “tweaked it” in Edmonton on April 24, sitting out ever since. He called the injury “disappointing.”
“It’s an exciting time of year, and you want to be as much a part of it as you can,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minnesota forward Jason Pominville (concussion) practiced Monday for the first time since the series began. Yeo said he’s still “day to day,” but it was a big step to return to the ice.
“It’s good to see Jason out there,” Pierre-Marc Bouchard said. “He seems to be feeling better, but who knows when he’s going to be back?”
After shaking up the lines for the third period against the Wild, Quenneville returned to his usual line combinations at Monday’s practice. And while Brandon Bollig again skated with Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger on the fourth line, Quenneville said Daniel Carcillo “could play.” Carcillo has been a healthy scratch for the first three games.