Saad not finding the net, but finding his place
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter January 26, 2014 6:14PM
Updated: February 28, 2014 6:30AM
Every time a Blackhawks’ player gets put on Patrick Kane’s line, and he’s asked what his primary job is in that role, he says the same thing: Get Kane the puck.
But a little selfishness can be a good thing.
“At the start, you think like that a little bit,” said Brandon Saad, who’s been Kane’s left winger for two weeks. “But even talking to [Kane], he wants you to play your game. That’s how we have success. Whether it’s him scoring or one of us scoring, either way, we’re happy to be on the ice for a goal.”
Saad has been on the ice for plenty of goals — he was a plus-7 in his first six games on the new line with Andrew Shaw and Kane — but he hasn’t scored any. In fact, he hasn’t scored since Jan. 3, a nine-game drought entering Sunday night’s game against Winnipeg.
It’s a different kind of goal drought than, say, Bryan Bickell’s recent stretch, which earned him a benching against the Jets. Saad has been playing rather well — he was particularly strong against Detroit on Wednesday, generating several good chances — he just hasn’t been able to find the back of the net.
So Saad is a little frustrated, but he’s not exactly kicking over tables in the dressing room after games.
“It just hasn’t been going in lately,” he said. “I’m definitely looking to score. It’s good to be contributing in other ways, and it’s nice that the plus-minus is good, but obviously you want to score and to contribute.”
Up until the line switch on Jan. 12, Saad had been the third-line right wing, the primary scoring option for that line. Now on the second line, he has Kane to defer to, and is back with Shaw, who usually camps out in front of the net — a place where Saad does some of his best work.
So it’s been a bit of an adjustment.
“Sometimes, you find us both at the net,” he said. “But I guess you can never get too many guys there when the pucks are around that area. Hopefully, I got a goal coming here soon.”
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville didn’t sound worried.
“He was a real threat in Detroit,” Quenneville said. “Sometimes, you get opportunities like that. Eventually, you’re going to be break out of it.”