Preps Talk

Saad in Blackhawks' lineup tonight

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Saad in Blackhawks' lineup tonight

Brandon Saad will play tonight and theres been no change in Marian Hossas condition as the Chicago Blackhawks host the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series on Thursday.

Hossa is still resting and recovering from Game 3. Hes obviously out tonight, and Quenneville wasnt going to speculate on Hossas status past tonight.

For Phoenix, Martin Hanzal and Lauri Korpikoski are both ruled out tonight.

As far as the Blackhawks, they werent running forward lines on Thursday morning, so who knows where Saad will fit in. But coach Joel Quenneville knows what he gets with the young forward, and said he could be versatile among the top lines.

Well see how the game is, how hes handling it, Quenneville said. Theres a chance he could get some exposure with the top guys.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks will try to bottle their emotions regarding the Raffi Torres hit on Hossa and use them to their advantage. They did it last season when Torres hit Brent Seabrook, using that -- and the return of Dave Bolland -- to fuel them past an 0-3 start and push Vancouver into a seven-game series.

You see a hit like that, there are a lot of emotions that can come into check. You have to be careful about what youre doing and keep those emotions wrapped up as much as possible. Well try to do that tonight, Patrick Kane said. Obviously Torres isnt playing tonight (due to his indefinite suspension). Well try to play hockey and play the right way. Im sure itll be physical. Its playoff hockey. Well just go out there and try to play hockey do what we do best and try to win.

Phoenix expects the Blackhawks to bring the emotion -- and their best game.

Its controlled emotion. Im sure theyre talking about it, too, Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. They want to use it, play with it, but you cant let it control you. Its just making sure you stay in control and you push the game. You dont try to react to it.

For Corey Crawford, its a chance to reset and refocus. Crawford said he sat in the locker room for about 10 to 15 minutes after everyone else left the other night, as he was still frustrated with the overtime goal he allowed. But he said now its out of his system.

Ive forgotten about last game; I have to, Crawford said. We have a huge game to play tonight and I need to be prepared for that.

Power Rankings: #8 - Naperville Central

Power Rankings: #8 - Naperville Central

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Naperville Central

Head coach: Mike Stein

Assistant Coaches: Mike Ulreich: (DC/Inside LB), Tim Boecker (DB) Marc Anderson (DB), Adam Pucylowski (Outside LB), Eric Novak (DL), Pat Watson (OC/OL), Phil Allen (OL), Ryan Clifford (TE/H-backs), Adam Freed (RB), Chad Bradley (QB), Josh McLeod (WR) and Kofi Hughes (WR)

How they fared in 2017: 9-3 (7-1 DuPage Valley Conference). Naperville Central made the 8A state playoff field and defeated West Aurora and Homewood-Flossmoor. In the quarterfinal round, they lost to Maine South. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Hinsdale Central

Aug. 31 @ Lincoln-Way East

Sept. 7 vs Naperville North

Sept. 14 @ St. Matthews (Trinity) Kentucky

Sept. 21 @ Metea Valley

Sept. 28 vs Naperville North at NCC

Oct. 5 vs Neuqua Valley

Oct. 12 vs Waubonsie Valley

Oct. 19 @ Cary-Grove

[MORE: 12 Days to Kickoff - Hinsdale Central]

Biggest storyline: The schedule. Can the Redhawks survive a grueling regular season slate and go deep in the Class 8A playoffs?

Names to watch this season: QB Payton Thorne (Western Michigan) and OG Luke Hallstrom (Air Force)

Biggest holes to fill: The Redhawks will need to reload upfront on both the offensive and defensive line this fall. 

EDGY's Early Take: Welcome to the new-look DuPage Valley, Naperville Central fans. The Redhawks will face a stiff test for all nine weeks of the regular season. It includes back-to-back games against fellow Class 8A state title contenders right out of the gate: Hinsdale Central and Lincoln-Way East. But Naperville Central features one of the state's top quarterbacks in senior Payton Thorne. He has capable targets in senior WR Cade McDonald and senior TE Jared Suchevits. As for the defense, they'll feature senior DB Jack Jopes along with senior LB Matt Oliver. A major plus to help Central's cause: they always have a deep roster and strong overall program numbers year in and year out. 

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 4: Roster overview

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 4: Roster overview

In a 10-part series, we look back at the 10-year anniversary of the 2008-09 season, the start of the Blackhawks dynasty.

Starting a dynasty means you have to identify a group of core players to build your team around. Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews were those guys, along with Marian Hossa, who joined that mix later on.

You also need a mixture of young talent and strong veterans to fill out the depth to become successful. That's exactly what the Blackhawks had at the beginning of their dynasty and throughout.

On the first day of NHL free agency in 2008, the Blackhawks inked All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell to an eight-year deal, which solidified Chicago as a destination players wanted to commit to long term. That same year, Kris Versteeg emerged as the Blackhawks' third Calder Trophy candidate in two years, Martin Havlat and Andrew Ladd set a career high in points with 77 and 49, respectively, while youngsters Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer and Dustin Byfuglien began to make a name for themselves as valuable pieces to the puzzle.

"Real good group of guys," Joel Quenneville said on Oct. 18, 2008. "I can say that it's the first time I walked in the room where, wow, I was impressed."

Six of the Blackhawks' Top 10 scorers in 2008-09 were aged 23 or younger. The average age for the other four? 27. The youth movement was real and they all contributed in a big way.