Blackhawks Pregame Notebook: Saad In, Hanzal Out
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By Adam Hoge-
UNITED CENTER (CBS) When the puck drops tonight at the United Center, the Blackhawks will be looking for a boost from an unlikely source.
Just a few days ago, Brandon Saad was playing in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs. Tonight, he’ll being playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It’s a big jump,” Patrick Sharp said. “Skipping a few levels there. We’re excited to have him on board. I’m sure he’ll help us out.”
Saad, who started the season with the Blackhawks but only played in two games before returning to the OHL, will dress tonight and attempt to replace Marian Hossa, who was knocked out of Game 2 by a hit from Raffi Torres.
“I thought (Saad) matured pretty well over the course of the season. He had a real strong year, an excellent playoff as well,” Quenneville said. “He’s coming in here fresh and excited.”
The Blackhawks didn’t show their lines in Thursday’s morning skate, but a board in the Coyotes locker room showed Saad on the Blackhawks’ second line with Patrick Kane and Andrew Brunette. That would seem unlikely, but Quenneville didn’t rule it out.
“There’s a chance he could get some exposure to the top guys,” the head coach said.
While Saad is making a big jump, he said he’s not very nervous and pointed to his brief NHL experience at the beginning of the season as a reason why he is so calm.
“I think I’m mostly excited,” he said. “At the start of the year I was definitely nervous, but since I got a couple games in I’m feeling pretty good right now.”
While many fans will want to see the Blackhawks take revenge on the Coyotes for knocking Hossa out of Game 2, they shouldn’t count on it.
The players said revenge is not on their mind.
“That stuff is over,” Dave Bolland said.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t angry anymore though. Quenneville would still like to see his team harness some of that anger and use it on the ice in a different way.
“We want to bring emotion and we want to bring passion and we want to make sure we have purpose as well, but discipline is always a focus and a key with our team and that’s going to be something that we’ll continue to reemphasize as we go along here,” Quenneville said.
Quenneville said there has been no change in Hossa’s status since yesterday.
“He probably felt the same way as the last few days,” he said.
The head coach refused to comment on whether or not Hossa would play in Game 5, but that still appears unlikely.
Coyotes center Martin Hanzal originally said he would participate in warm-ups before making a call on playing tonight, but head coach Dave Tippett later ruled him out.
Hanzal said he’s improving so he could play in Game 5.
For complete coverage of tonight’s Game 4 between the Blackhawks and Coyotes, follow Adam on Twitter (@AdamHogeCBS).