Brandon Saad is still playing the same high-paced, aggressive, two-way style that entrenched him on the Blackhawks' top line early in the season. The only thing that's different lately is he's finally getting rewarded for his effort.
The 20-year-old rookie has a goal and seven assists in his last six games, and is tied for sixth in the NHL in rookie scoring with 13 points (four goals, nine assists).
"I think I've been playing the same way, it's just that the points are coming," Saad said. "With [Patrick Sharp] out, I've been getting some power play time, things like that, getting different looks. It's just been clicking a little bit. I don't think I've changed anything in my game, it's just coming along."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has been pleased with Saad's play fro his debut in the second game of the season -- even though he was pointless in his first eight games, and had just three goals and zero assists through his first 18 games -- and is glad to see him finally show up on the stat sheet on a regular basis.
"Early on in the season, he didn't have any production at all to show for what he was doing, [but] I thought that line was dangerous every night," Quenneville said. "Eventually, they start going in for you. ... He sees plays and protects well. He can do it himself, but he's got a couple of guys he can give it to that can finish, so it's been a real good line for us."
Those guys, of course, are Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Saad models his game after the two-way standouts, and playing alongside them has only hastened his development.
"I think I've always been a two-way player, but playing with those guys and seeing the type of player they are, it makes me work even harder," Saad said.
The trio has been red-hot lately, combining for nine goals in the last six games.
"You gain that chemistry as you go along," Toews said. "We want to keep building off that. We know we can be even better than we have been."