Brandon Saad Likely In Blackhawks Lineup For Game 4 Vs. Coyotes

By Randy Holt

Already without Andrew Shaw for another two games because of his suspension, the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves down another man from the forward ranks, albeit a player of much greater importance than Shaw is.

Though the Hawks have yet to give an official update on the status of Marian Hossa, and I don’t expect them to until at least Friday, it’s probably safe to say that Hossa will not be available for this next stretch of games, if at all for the rest of the postseason, however long that ends up taking.

Hossa had to be carted off the ice on a stretcher after taking a brutal hit from resident Phoenix Coyotes goon Raffi Torres. Torres left his feet and popped Hossa in the head with his shoulder, almost a full second after Hossa had passed off the puck. Torres has since been suspended indefinitely, as he awaits a hearing with Brendan Shanahan for what could be a very lengthy suspension.

That’s little consolation (or is it?) for the Hawks, who are now faced with the task of replacing the All Star in their top six.

Sort of luckily for the Hawks, they won’t have to pick a player off the scrap heap to replace him. Instead they’ll roll with 19-year-old sensation Brandon Saad, who returns to Chicago after an incredible season in the Ontario Hockey League. As surprising as it seems, Saad was the Hawks’ fourth selection in the 2011 NHL Draft, falling all the way to no. 43 overall.

Saad was the star of Blackhawks training camp, shocking everyone to make the team out of camp and playing in the first two games of the season before he was sent back to the Saginaw Spirit, where he performed like a man among boys, with an average up near two points a game.

After posting 76 points in 44 games with the Spirit, and a very good 17 points in 12 playoff games, Saad gets an early shot for the club that most assumed he’d be skating for to start next season anyway. But where will he skate?

It’s highly unlikely we see Saad in the bottom six, and I don’t expect to see him next to Marcus Kruger, either. Assuming Saad plays, which is pretty much a given at this point, you’ll likely see a top line of Saad, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane, at least to start.

It’s unfortunate that Saad has made his way back into the lineup, given the circumstances, but he’ll be a guy to watch nonetheless after the show he put on in Saginaw all season long. On Thursday, we’ll see if Phoenix is prepared to “Kneel Before Saad.”

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