On Sunday afternoon, the Blackhawks won a preseason game in Detroit. A number of young players had solid performances, but the bigger news was confirmed after the game.
The Brandon Saad-at-Center experiment is over (for now).
On the ice, the Blackhawks looked good in a number of areas. Corey Crawford was tested, and played well; he allowed two goals against 33 shots from Detroit as the Hawks hung on to win 4-3.
Two prospects seeing action in their first preseason games led the scoring for Chicago. Byron Froese scored twice and Garret Ross added a goal early in the third period. Ross also added four penalty minutes.
Defenseman Michal Rozsival played in his first preseason action as well, and skated a team-high 25:43 in the game.
Joakim Nordstrom, who has had a very impressive preseason, scored in the first period as well. He was also credited with two hits in the game, and has shown a knack for being around the puck throughout the preseason. Nordstrom led all Blackhawks with 4:01 of short-handed ice time in the game on Sunday, and has seen a lot of ice time with Kruger on PK duty.
The faceoff circle continued to be an issue for the Blackhawks, who won only 20 of 51 draws in the game. Marcus Kruger won five of 11 while Froese and Jonathan Toews each won five of 13 in the game. Drew LeBlanc won only four of ten.
One skater that wasn’t prominent in faceoffs was Saad, who played left wing throughout the game. Afterward, coach Joel Quenneville confirmed that Saad will be back at wing to begin the regular season.
The news that Saad would move back to wing came with some other good news. Brandon Pirri, who many have hoped would step into the second line center role this season after a strong season in Rockford last year, will play in his first preseason game when the Hawks play in Pittsburgh on Monday night. Pirri has been out of action because of a lower body injury, and will need to play well to jump back into the conversation for Opening Night.
On the blue line, Viktor Svedberg skated 24:19 in the game and earned the praise of Quenneville after the game. Svedberg, listed at 6-9 and 223 pounds, is a free agent invite to training camp who signed an AHL contract with Rockford in May.
Dylan Olsen was limited to just over 15 minutes in the game, but was credited with two blocked shots and two hits.
The Hawks were 0-3 on the power play. In spite of their mind-numbing inability to score with an advantage, the Hawks improved to 3-0-1 in the preseason with their win on Sunday.
Nikolai Khabibulin is expected to start on Monday night in Pittsburgh.