Blackhawks Beat Red Wings, Move Saad Back to Wing

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).

Saad vs DET

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.

22 thoughts on “Blackhawks Beat Red Wings, Move Saad Back to Wing

  • September 22, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    So the Saad at center experiment is over – it was intriguing but it’s probably for the best. I really hope Nordstrom makes the team because I think he’s the best of the candidates to replace Frolik as Kruger’s PK partner. Happy to hear Pirri is going to play tomorrow. Hopefully he plays well enough to get (back) into consideration.

    Almost time to play for real … ain’t life grand :)

  • September 23, 2013 at 4:32 am



  • September 23, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Re: Nordstrom- ER has seen the light! The kid is a very good skater and has good IQ- nice move!

    Sr. Brad- Ross can skate – I was impressed with his quickness and Reads-

    Zero shots on the last 2 PP’s- Best looking PP time was when the 3rd or 4th line were together at the end of the 1st PP… Maybe that is the solution!!! Pathetic.

  • September 23, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Tab- I haven’t had a chance to watch/listen to any games yet… based on what you’ve seen, what would you project the opening day lineup to look like. I would assume 29/19/88 but after that it seems it gets hazy as to who will be where.

  • September 23, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Re: Tim – I want to see Pirri tonight before trying to predict a lineup. He & Handzus are a couple question marks for me because of injuries/age. And lines will move around a lot, especially with Saad back at wing.

  • September 23, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Thanks Tab…another really good preseason game to watch…the Hawks are such a good team and their depth is almost embarrassing…and how about those prospects…I have always liked Froese from his junior days when he was a natural scorer who needed to learn to play 2 way hockey…well, clearly he’s done that, while putting on about 20 pounds of muscle…in his last scrimmage game he was the best player on the ice, and yesterday, he was that again, and there were a lot of good hockey players playing yesterday…make no mistake Froese looks like with some more game experience he’s ready to play in the NHL this season…and with his size and strength, he could be perfect for the 2nd line Centre position…its good to hear that Pirri is healthy and ready to go Monday night, but he is going to have to show up and play well as this Hawk’s team/system is loaded with talent.

    How about Nordstrom…I knew that the last half of last season in Rockford he started to show himself to be an NHL player, but I had no idea that he would develop this much self confidence this soon in his game…the young Swede is not only incredibly sound in the defensive zone, but has shown good vision, nice passing, very nice moves, and even finish…plus he is very good on the PK…we may very well be talking about the biggest surprise of TC…I think he might make the final roster…wow.

    How about Garret Ross…I have been talking up this young man for about a year now, and he too made the most of his 1st preseason game…certainly the coaches believe that he needs to begin his season in Rockford, but he showed us yesterday, in Detroit, that he belongs in the show…he hockey smart, tough, has a knack for finding the puck, has an instinct for the net, and can skate…as I stated a year ago, he’s Andrew Shaw 2.0, and any team can use another one of those…

    Dahlbeck showed another smooth game yesterday on D…no mistakes, nothing fancy, but very consistent, eating up valuable minutes…Svedberg looked really good and that’s really surprising to me, as he still looked somewhat uncoordinated for his size last year, but wow, is he really starting to put it all together…and another nice game for Dylan Olsen…nothing flashy really, but the big thing, no huge gaffs which he is prone to…this is really nice to see…LeBlanc will need to start the year in Rockford…there are aspects of his game that are important at the NHL level that he must work on…but he sure has potential to be a good NHL centre…

    Finally, a great first effort by Rozy…he’s such a pro…he’s barely even scrimmaged with the team and steps into a Wing’s game and plays 25 very good minutes…nice job…and how about the PP…what is it now, ZERO for 15? Honestly, at this point we should just decline the option when given the chance…looking forward to tonight’s game…

  • September 23, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Wall, did you notice all the little things that Ross does so well…like stick positioning…he’s very hockey smart…

    Tab, did you hear Q’s post game remarks on Saad? “And if he’s on our 3rd line it makes that line very dangerous offensively…”

    Honestly, if we can find a solid solution at 2nd line Centre and Saad drops onto the 3rd line with say Shaw and Morin, that’s 3 really good lines, and a 4th line of say Kruger centring a mix of Smith, Hayes, Bollig and Nordstrom, I honestly think this will be the best 4 lines the Hawks have ever started the season with.

  • September 23, 2013 at 9:34 am

    In 13 minutes of ice time (none of the PP], Froese has 2 goals, 5 shots, 1 hit and 1 takeaway…plus he played a minute on the PK…plus for a big man, Froese skates well…at some point this season he might just become our long term 2nd line Centre option…boy did he ever look good.

  • September 23, 2013 at 9:41 am

    barry – you’re correct, Svedberg has played pretty well. Ya can’t teach size and Svedberg has it, that’s for sure. Pretty good agility for a guy his size too. He’s not spectacular, but is steady and reliable. He’ll probably get better too. Other than the size factor, same can be said of Dahlbeck – reliable d-man who won’t hurt you. Both will benefit by getting steady shifts in Rockford.

  • September 23, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Sr Brad…..Holy Crap our PP needs help badly. Just can’t put a finger on it. This must be MADDENING for the coaching staff and players. Maybe they should just watch films of teams with a good PP and emulate them. Can’t hurt.

    Glad to see Saad back at wing where he belongs. Two pre season games left. I hope they let Kruger play one and Pirri the other at 2C. We know what we have in Zues. But for God’s sake the faceoffs have to improve.

    Very pleased with the overall play. 2C, the PP, playing better with the lead and, as Tab said, staying out of the Doctor’s office seem to be the main obstacles to another SCF.

  • September 23, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I think the 2nd line Center competition comes down to Kruger being the guy. With Handzus splitting duty with Smith on the 4th line. What concerns me is the PK combos. That at faceoffs.

    Bickell – Toews – Kane
    Sharp – Kruger – Hossa
    Saad – Shaw – Hayes
    Morin / Bollig – Handzus / Smith – Nordstrom / Smith

  • September 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Think we are gonna see
    Saad/Shaw/Smith on the 3d line
    Morin/Pirri/Hayes on the fourth

    Both lines will be awesome

  • September 23, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I don’t share optimism on Pirri. Even if he’s healthy? Bottom line he isn’t that good. Certainly not to the level of the 12 forward mix of a playoff contender. His offensive and defensive game just won’t translate. Nice kid, but…

    My personal view is that Danualt is a full time Center on the Hawks by the holidays.

  • September 23, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I think everyone besides Rufus thinks that Danault needs at least a year at Rockford. Guy obviously needs to get stronger physically and learn at the professional level. Maybe he does that in 2 months… but I wouldn’t put money on it.

    Ross looks awesome and that was a great call by you, Brad. I’m really excited about his future.

    Pirri’s injury is really a bummer and I would imagine that unless he has a really impressive final two games, he’ll be heading back to Rockford.

    What this means is we will likely see the corpse of Handzus getting second line minutes. Yes, it makes me sad too. Should this worry you? Probably not. We saw the Hawks win the Cup with a one-legged Handzus last summer.

    I’m REALLY looking forward to the trade deadline when everyone starts bitching that the Hawks won’t be able to win the cup without trading for a second line center.

  • September 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Hawks sent Clendening, Olsen, McNeill, Ross,, Broadhurst, Dahlbeck and Simpson to the Icehogs today. TT and Hartmen went back to Finland and Ontario. Hawks released Svedberg so he is now a free agent. Too bad, I like a 6’9″ guy in our system.

    Stanton, Kostka, Peckham are still at camp on the D side.
    Hayes, LeBlanc, Morin, Pirri, Smith and Winchester are still at camp on the offense side. No word in the article about Fr0ese or Nordstrom, so we will see tonite.

    So a couple of surprises. Thought Ross and Clendening showed enough to make the 36 who are left but I guess not. No real issues but Winchester???

  • September 23, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I really like Danault, this season probally fills in for 10 or so during middle part of season… Based on right now, I think hes in fulltime when T is, fall14 or 2nd 40games. He is going to be son of a bitch to play against… A Ross-Danault-Shawzer line is a cool concept. We ll be stacked then too, that will be 4th line. BEAUTY.

    I think we only have 28 & 11 in fulltime and 22, 42 & 37 get 10-25games throughout season. The beauty is all of a sudden we are so deep again… boy that was fast. We havnt even started the 82games yet. The ‘younger’ guys are not as ready as they are right now… We ll add a player at deadline too.

    Who brought the keg, Im pumping.

  • September 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Is that where Shaw got hurt fighting 12.

  • September 23, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Just remember Froese is only 185 to 190 pounds-up from 175 last year-But at 6 ft 190 he isn’t the big center some people have talked about. Good player, strong and a nice guy-I know he’s related to me.

  • September 23, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Mike, I think you are right about Clendening and Ross, but there is literally no room for them, so MGT had already decided they were going down…the same for McNeil and Danault…

    JS…I don’t think we are going to be clamouring about a 2nd centre trade at the deadline this year, because if it isn’t already cemented, we will promote from within…a lot of good options and a number of guys, including TT, that could be ready at the trade deadline…

    Morrison, a line of Shaw, Ross and Danault would be awesome…3 pitbulls on one line.

  • September 23, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Nick I think you need to take another look at your relative, Mr. Froese…he looked and played like a 6’4″ power forward last night.

  • September 23, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Mike, Svedberg is signed to play this year in Rockford, which will help him very much.

  • September 24, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Sr. Brad-
    You said he ” skated well for a big man..”(not what you said word for word but close) I would think that type of comment would be for a guy 6′ 4″ 220 a true power forward-that’s all I was getting at with my response.

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