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updated: 4/8/2014 9:54 PM

Blackhawks' Saad using game off as motivation

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  • Brandon Saad is ready to get back at it for the Blackhawks after being a healthy scratch for Sunday's victory over St. Louis.

    Brandon Saad is ready to get back at it for the Blackhawks after being a healthy scratch for Sunday's victory over St. Louis.
    Associated Press


Message sent.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville's surprise benching of Brandon Saad for Sunday's matinee against St. Louis, this coming after the young forward had gone nine games with just 1 point.

Then, before Tuesday's practice at the United Center, Saad and Quenneville meeting briefly to make sure they're on the same page heading into the final regular-season games and the playoffs.

"Pretty short talk. Just refocus, get ready and get back in the lineup," Saad said of his sit-down with the coach. "He knows I'm a good player and expects the best out of me, so that's something I've got to bring."

Message received.

"I think you've got to take it as motivation," Saad said of his first career benching. "You've just got to fuel the fire and come out firing and bring that energy to the team."

And that's just what Quenneville is expecting to see out of Saad on Wednesday when the Hawks host Montreal.

"I liked how he practiced today," Quenneville said. "He gives us a lot of intangibles; he brings skill to our lineup, speed, he's dangerous off the rush, heavy in the puck area. You can use him on both sides of the ice.

"He'll be useful as we go along here and it's only one game. Let's move on and be excited about the game."

Saad's teammates are confident in the young forward's ability to bounce back and put the whole healthy-scratch situation behind him.

"He's only 21, but you'd think he's 30," Ben Smith said. "He's a mature guy; I think he handled it very well. Talking to him afterward, he's ready to get back to work and bring another level -- one that he has -- we've seen what he can bring to the table.

"He'll step up for sure."

Added Patrick Sharp: "I have 10 years on Saader, and I feel like I've been through a few situations like that earlier in my career.

"I've been down that road before, but I wasn't as good as Saader was at that age. He's more mature than I was. There's not a whole lot I can say to Saader that he doesn't already know. He's already a true professional."

But still there are a few areas of Saad's game the coaching staff would like to see improvement in as the postseason nears.

"He has pretty high standards of comparing his game to some guys," Quenneville said. "And that consistency we're accustomed to seeing was sporadic. He still has to find ways to participate in our team game. He wasn't at the level that he wants to see … or we want to see. Just have to pick it up."

Once again, message received.

"It's a wake-up call, really, a reality check," said Saad, who has 45 points in 75 games and has a plus-23 rating. "You have been playing well, but you can always get better.

"I think as a young guy it's something that he teaches well, and that's why young players have success here -- because he expects the most of out them and for them to play well."

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