Between the Circles
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Blackhawks rookie left winger Brandon Saad on Monday was named a finalist for the Calder Trophy, which goes annually to the NHL’s top rookie.
Saad, Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher and Florida forward Jonathan Huberdeau were named the three finalists. The award winner will be announced during the Stanley Cup Finals.
The 20-year-old Saad had 27 points on 10 goals and 17 assists in 46 games playing on the first line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
He led all rookies in plus-minus (plus-17), ranked third in assists and was fifth in points. He shared fifth in goals.
It’s the third time in the last six years that a member of the Hawks has been nominated for the award. Toews and Patrick Kane were finalists in 2007-08 and Kris Versteeg in 2008-09.
Niklas Backstrom took part in the morning skate for the Minnesota Wild on Friday, but it will be Josh Harding starting Game 2.
How does that affect the Blackhawks' scouting report?
"One's a righty and one's a lefty," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said jokingly. “That’s the differential. They’re both capable and have played meaningful games.”
Harding, who catches with his right hand, made 35 saves in Game 1 after learning only minutes before faceoff that he would start because Backstrom had been injured in warmup.
“For him there were a lot of positives to take out of the game,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “I think as much as anything else it’s the confidence of going out and playing well in a game like that. It’s not like he hasn’t played good hockey before.
Center Dave Bolland and goalie Ray Emery, both of whom have been battling groin injuries, are expected to travel to Minnesota for Games 3 and 4.
Emery skated before practice on Thursday but Bolland did not.
"We're going to rule them out for (Game 2)," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Ray was out there today and Bolly didn't skate, but he's getting real close. Ray felt good so there was good progress. They're likely coming (to Minnesota)."
There are no lineup changes expected for the Hawks for Friday's Game 2 at the United Center.
Patrick Kane’s playoff mullet is back.
And he persuaded Blackhawks rookie teammate Brandon Saad to get one too.
“We got them yesterday,” Kane said. “It was one of those things I didn’t know if I was going to do, but I think when push came to shove it was kind of something fun to do for playoffs. I think a lot of my friends and people around the organization wanted me to do it for the playoffs. It’s something fun to do.”
Kane and Saad each have the razor cuts on the side.
“Saad’s is looking good too,” Kane said. “Hopefully we’ll have some time to let it grow.”
Saad said he had a mullet a couple years ago in juniors for the playoffs.
Center Dave Bolland and goalie Ray Emery were ruled out of Tuesday’s playoff opener against Minnesota because of lower body injuries.
“We’re going to rule them out for tomorrow and say day-to-day, both with lower bodies,” coach Joel Quenneville said after Monday’s practice at the United Center. “We’re hopeful they’re going to be back on the ice real soon. We expect them on the ice real soon.”
Henrik Karlsson will back up starter Corey Crawford against the Wild in Game 1 while Michal Handzus continues in his role as second line center in place of Bolland between Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.
The Blackhawks will play the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
That was decided on Saturday when the Wild beat Colorado 3-1 in Denver.
Detroit clinched the seventh seed by winning 3-0 at Dallas and will play Anaheim in round one.
Columbus was left out in the cold despite beating Nashville 3-1. The Blue Jackets finished tied with Minnesota in points but lost the tiebreaker.
Center Dave Bolland, one of the Blackhawks' most important playoff performers, will be ready for the postseason despite missing the last two games with a lower body injury.
Bolland will sit out Friday's home finale against Calgary and also won't play Saturday in St. Louis.
"He should be fine," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said when asked about Bolland's availability for the playoffs.
Quenneville hinted that Bolland could be centering the third line when he returns since Michal Handzus has played so well on the second line with Patrick Kane.
"Sometimes those decisions are made for us based on their play whether we need changes or not," Quenneville said.
Marian Hossa is the Blackhawks’ nominee for the Masterton Trophy, which goes annually to the NHL player who demonstrates dedication to the game, perseverance and sportsmanship.
Hossa, who was nominated by the Chicago chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, has come back from a serious concussion suffered in Game 3 of the playoffs last season on an illegal hit by Raffi Torres, then with Phoenix.
Hossa wasn’t cleared to play until November but because of the lockout didn’t miss any time. He had 16 goals and 28 points going into Friday’s game against Nashville.
The Red Wings will be leaving the Western Conference after this season when the NHL realigns, but for the Blackhawks there’s always Vancouver.
“I think in this era, that new rivalry is us and the Canucks,” center Dave Bolland said. “It’s a great rivalry and we’ve played them so many times and had so many battles. Just the hatred between both teams is great for the league and great for the fans.
“It’s two teams that go out and battle their hearts out, one team wants to win and will slash and hit and do whatever it can to get that.”
That doesn't mean Bolland won't miss playing Detroit.
"For sure, I'm going to miss them," Bolland said. "It's always been a great rivalry. Now we'll only see them twice when they move over (to the East). I'm a little heartbroken."
Now this is interesting.
Ray Emery will make his third straight start tonight against Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center.
“It gives him a little bit more based on how he’s been playing,” coach Joel Quenneville told Blackhawks TV following the morning skate. “It gives him a chance to get some consecutive games as well and we’ll see how he is.”
Some will call it an ongoing audition for Emery for the playoffs. Others insist Corey Crawford still is the Hawks’ No. 1 goalie.
Crawford likely will start on Friday against Detroit at the United Center.