There is a lot to be expected of Saad this year since he was traded for Artemi Panarin, and there is hope he can revive Jonathan Toews‘ scoring touch. Let’s not forget about making a long run into the playoffs in the quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
He showed why he was brought back tonight by going hard to the net and getting the results. He had 8 shots during the game while buzzing around the net the entire night. One thing that the Blackhawks did not have at all last year in the playoffs against the Nashville Predators was net presence. Saad will bring that. His play was a big reason why he was part of two Stanley Cup Champions (’13 & ’15).
Overshadowed tonight was the play of some key players that will need to make a difference this year.
Nick Schmaltz had another strong game with two assists and winning 7 of 9 faceoffs. Schmaltz may become the 2nd line center for the Hawks, but he will have to work on his faceoffs. Last year his faceoff win % was a dismal 30.9%.
The Blackhawks ranked 29th of 30 teams last year in that category and Schmaltz will be looked upon to make a difference. With the loss of Marcus Kruger, this stat will have to get better and it starts with Schmaltz.
Richard Panik had 3 assists and Patrick Sharp added 2 assists. Both will be tasked to help pick up for the unexpected loss of Marian Hossa. Panik will most likely stay on the top line joining Saad and Toews. If Panik can continue his play of last year, 44 points (22G 22A), the addition of Saad will only help him along with Toews, 58 points (21G 37A).
Sharp, if he can remain healthy, could find himself on either the 2nd or 3rd line depending on how things work out with the rest of the roster. Last year in Dallas, he suffered a concussion and had season-ending hip surgery after a poor year, 18 points (8G 10A).
He should find more ice time on the point on the power play as well. And with a healthy Artem Anisimov providing screens in front of the opposing net, Sharp should rebound nicely and provide additional scoring.
Alex DeBrincat scored his first goal of the preseason as he continues to show that he belongs with the big club after having a nice night on a line with Schmaltz and Patrick Kane. DeBrincat had 4 shots on the night.
If DeBrincat continues to play at this level and makes the roster, he will give Coach Joel Quenneville a good problem to have in where to put him in the lineup. Possible combos include, as we saw tonight, DeBrincat-Schmaltz-Kane, or Hartman-Anisimov-DeBrincat.
A notable mention goes to defenseman, Jordan Oesterle, who had 2 assists, +3, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots tonight.
3 Stars of the Game
1 – Brandon Saad – 3G, +3, 8 shots
2 – Alex DeBrincat – 1G, 4 shots
3 – Nick Schmaltz – 2A, Won 7 0f 9 faceoffs
Next game: Saturday, 09/23/17, Home vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, 7:30PM CT
LET’S GO HAWKS!!!