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Brandon Saad benched for first time in Blackhawks career

Coach Joel Quenneville knows he’ll have some difficult lineup decisions to make come playoff time. He welcomes them.

‘‘This wasn’t a tough one,’’ he said.

Brandon Saad was benched for the first time in his career Sunday, a healthy scratch for the Blackhawks’ 4-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues. In his last nine games, Saad has no goals and one assist and is a minus-6. The last seven games — since he returned from missing three games with an upper-body injury — have been a particular struggle.

Saad will be back in the lineup Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens, but Quenneville said he needs to see more from the second-year winger.

‘‘Playing the right way is something we reinforce,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘I don’t think he ever got one of those shifts or games where he was just rolling, comfortable with the puck, and playing with the pace we’re accustomed to seeing. But we expect him to be a big piece of our team here, and we need him to be back playing. And we expect him to be back in the next game and playing his game.’’

Quenneville said he expects the message to be received.

‘‘Sometimes you make decisions, sometimes they’re not popular, sometimes you do different things,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ve still got three [regular-season] games to go, and we’re still going to be banking on him being a big part of it.’’


Twitter: @MarkLazerus

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