Feb 22, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) is defended by San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle (22) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Brandon Saad is now fully inducted into being called a Chicago Blackhawks’ forward. Why? Like all of Chicago’s forwards Saad now baffles the opposition and possess speed and skills others simply cannot comprehend.
Of all the opposing coaches in the NHL Todd McLellan is one of the coaches I like. He is a very good coach but I have to disagree with his comment yesterday post game as his Sharks fell for a third time this year to the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1.
Maybe it was frustration or the Sharks inability to solve the Hawks, but in his own words he was pissed off leaving Chicago with no points and defeated yet again.
His comment on the short handed Saad game winning goal was not entirely accurate. For those that missed it he told the media “I thought we let a player that wasn’t very dangerous – not because he’s not very talented, or anything – but a player in a situation that wasn’t very dangerous, skate into a primary scoring spot without even challenging him,” McLellan said. “Then, I’m not sure if our goalie was on the angle or not, but [I’m] disappointed we didn’t challenge him earlier.”
Why I disagree with Coach McLellan is he just found out what others are beginning to realize that when dealing with Chicago Blackhawks there is NO situation that is not dangerous. Full strength, extra man situations or short handed the Blackhawks are always dangerous and not just their forwards either.
The Sharks may have concentrated too much on Kane, Toews, Hossa and Sharp and forgot that this Blackhawks team is loaded full with different weapons on all four lines.
Coach McLelland blamed Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns for not closing the gap on Saad earlier and just let him walk in. Burns told the media he was trying to keep Saad from cutting back to the middle of the ice and keep him to the outside. Which he did but Saad still got it past Niemi off the far post.
Burns may have misjudged Saad’s speed and that caught him retreating rather than challenging. He probably did not want to get beat and be caught flat footed seeing Saad go around him. Burns should have tightened the gap for sure, you never give a Hawk forward any room if possible. Unfortunately for him he found that fact out and incurred his coach’s ire.
If Burns miscalculated Saad so did Antti Niemi. Niemi moved to much to his right post leaving a tiny window on the left side open just enough for a skilled sniper to get one in.
I’m not sure if both Burns and Niemi underestimated the rookie or they were simply unfamiliar with his speed and moves. In any event Brandon Saad now has the distinction of getting the Blackhawks into the NHL history books with his shorty game winning goal.
Consider also Coach Joel Quenneville had Saad out there on a penalty kill. That places a lot of responsibility and trust in a rookie forward which speaks volumes with the teams valuing of his defensive game. Give credit to Coach Quenneville for having the right personnel on the ice to allow that short handed goal to happen.
Young Saad now indeed joins the ranks of Blackhawks forwards in frustrating and agitating opposing teams and coaches. The scary thing is he is just a rookie and will only get better with more game experience. Just what the Hawks needed another skilled sniper in their repertoire.
Coach McLellan take heart, your not the only team to be out gunned by the Chicago Blackhawks arsenal of skilled forwards. The entire Western Conference teams to this point have not fared much better. The Sharks now know the measure of where you need to be if you want to compete with the best.