Blackhawks News

Brandon Saad Is The Energizer For Any Line

By Josh Brink

Oct 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) reacts after scoring a goal the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week on BlackhawkUp I posted an article discussing 3 reasons why Kris Versteeg’s return is good for the Blackhawks. The key point discussed was how his return would add a spark/puzzle piece to the lineup following Coach Q’s decision to move Kris Versteeg up to the 2nd line and Brandon Saad down to the 3rd line. Focusing on the depth this would add to the 3rd line and possibilities of helping them with their puck possession woes they had through the first 4 games. After Brandon Saad’s play on that 3rd line and the production that not only came from Bryan Bickell but also Brad Richards, it just goes to show Brandon Saad is the energizer for any line.

When paired with Andrew Shaw and Patrick Kane on the 2nd line Brandon Saad helped give the needed spark at the end of the Western Conference Finals but it was too little too late. Joel Quenneville couldn’t break them up so the season started with them on the same line. We saw a spectacular game from the trio on October 11 vs. the Buffalo Sabres, all of them making it onto the highlight reel. Brandon Saad was able to contribute by setting up 3 goals and getting the assist. Two out of Three of his assists were to his linemates Andrew Shaw and Patrick Kane. The third assist came on a Daniel Carcillo goal late in the 3rd period. The Chicago Blackhawks were able to take the win in a 6-2 shellacking.

Now with the return of Kris Versteeg, Coach Q felt that the 2nd line was the fit he wanted for Kris Versteeg’s return so that he could utilize Brandon Saad down on the 3rd line for some energy/spark. He got exactly that on Tuesday night vs. the Philadelphia Flyers when Brandon Saad and the rest of the 3rd line played a very solid game. Brandon Saad started the night off with the first goal which was assisted by the other 2 members of the 3rd line, Brad Richards and Bryan Bickell. Then the 3rd goal of the game scored by Bryan Bickell was assisted by Brandon Saad which pretty much sealed the game in the 1st period because Antti Raanta went on to shutout the Flyers. The move has seemed to “wake up” Richards and Bickell so continue to monitor the 3rd line change over the next several games.

Barring and injuries or slumps these look like solid, energized lines going forward and they will get better as the chemistry builds among them. The Blackhawks are still the only team that has not lost in regulation and they have already begun to click as a unit. Antti Raanta has been called upon in the result of a Corey Crawford injury and he looks like he is in good form ready to prove he deserves more time behind the crossbars on a regular basis.

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