On Sunday, sophomore forward Brandon Saad was dropped from the Chicago lineup as part of a “coach’s decision,” per Joel Quenneville. Following the game — a 4-2 win over St. Louis — Quenneville set about explaining the decision, and the ease with which he made it.
“We like tough decisions and we welcome them. This wasn’t one,” Quenneville said, per CSN Chicago. “So we’re looking for tougher ones as we go along. When we put the lineup together we want consistency and playing the right way.”
Saad, who missed three games recently with an upper-body injury, has been invisible over the last two weeks — just one point (an assist) in his last nine games and an ugly three-game stretch versus Boston, Ottawa and Pittsburgh in which he went minus-6 (all three were Chicago losses, coincidentally).
Production-wise, it’s been a pretty big decline. Saad’s one of the better offensive players on the roster and sat fifth on the team in goals (19) prior to the skid and eventual healthy scratch. It’s a level Quenneville wants to see the 21-year-old get back to.
“Guys who are scorers and productive, they’re used to getting that good feeling when you have something to measure your play with,” Quenneville explained. “But playing the right way is something we reinforce, and he never got one of those shifts or games where he was rolling, comfortable with the puck and playing with the pace we’re accustomed to seeing.”
“We expect him to be a big piece of our team. We expect him back the next game [Wednesday, vs. Montreal] and playing his game.”
GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now
Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline on Tuesday.
“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.
Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?
Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”
Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.
Portzline goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.
Next four games: Three out of four at home Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.
As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.
For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.
He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.
Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).
That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out
This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:
With Ovechkin out, Caps lines look like this: