Blackhawks look to snap four-game losing skid against Jets


Blackhawks look to snap four-game losing skid against Jets

By Darrin Bauming contributor

The Blackhawks will look to get back in the win column and snap their current four-game slide Friday night in Winnipeg against a Jets team that will likely be fired up to play against their former captain.

Andrew Ladd will step on MTS Centre ice for the first time since he was acquired by the Blackhawks on Feb. 25 — and his former teammates are well aware of it.

"It still feels like he's just hurt or something and we're expecting him back at any time," Jets forward Blake Wheeler said after mentioning his and Ladd's families got together Thursday to catch up.

"It'll be a little different seeing him (on the ice) for the first time. It's always good to get him on the ice and I'm sure there'll be some things said back and fourth and it should be a fun night."

[MORE HAWKS: Be careful in writing the Blackhawks off]

Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who won a Stanley Cup alongside Ladd in Chicago in 2010, cracked jokes ahead of Friday's Central Division tilt.

"It's all business," the Jets All-Star blueliner said. "I can't wait to shoot a puck at him. You know, run him into the boards."

"I already told him, I've got an elbow coming for him if he's coming," replied Ladd when told of Byfuglien's light-hearted threat. "So he might end up with a bloody nose."

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

Head coach Joel Quenneville confirmed goaltender Scott Darling will get the start Friday night, reiterating Corey Crawford's day-to-day status remains unchanged with an upper-body injury. Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal for Winnipeg.

"It's a great opportunity for (Darling)," said Quenneville. "I know that he hadn't played much through most of the year, and (then) playing last game. And then all of a sudden the importance of the games are even more critical for everyone and taking advantage of it at a tough time like he did last year for us is what we're looking for."

Teuvo Teravainen did not skate Friday morning, with Quenneville listing him as "questionable" due to illness.

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch


Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.