Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tortorella Wants More from Playoff-Tested Winger Saad Blue Jackets Acquired the Pine-Richland Graduate to Lead Them in the Playoffs as He Had with Chicago

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tortorella Wants More from Playoff-Tested Winger Saad Blue Jackets Acquired the Pine-Richland Graduate to Lead Them in the Playoffs as He Had with Chicago

Article excerpt

Last summer felt like an eternity for Brandon Saad.

Maybe longer.

The Blue Jackets acquired Saad in a June 30, 2015 blockbuster trade after he played 65 playoff games the previous three years and won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks.

But Columbus missed the postseason in Saad's first year, delaying the entire point of the transaction.

"It's a newer franchise, and they haven't had a lot of experience with winning in the playoffs," said Saad, a Pine Township native. "I've been fortunate to play with some good teams and players. That's something that I want to bring coming in, whether it's with the young guys or the older guys. We have a good leadership group in here. I'm happy to be a part of it."

And now, finally, Saad is part of it. The Penguins took a 1-0 series lead over the Blue Jackets after a 3-1 win Wednesday night.

Coach John Tortorella talked Wednesday following his team's morning skate about Saad's impact on his team, how he needs to transfer some of what he learned in Chicago to a younger Columbus team and not "lie in the weeds" when it comes to leadership.

"He has a couple of rings in his pocket," Tortorella said. "He's played with his prior team with some pretty good people, an organization that knows how to win. He needs to give some of that back to us.

"He was being tutored by (Marian) Hossa, (Duncan) Keith, (Jonathan) Toews . he needs to be that guy for us. Not lie in the weeds, but he needs to be that guy for us with some of our youth."

Saad produced 24 goals and 53 points in 82 games this season for Columbus, the same number of points but seven fewer goals than the winger had last season.

That's all well and good, but Saad is the Blue Jackets' highest-paid player because he has the unique ability to elevate his game in the playoffs.

During his final 42 playoff games with Chicago, Saad had 14 goals and 27 points, eight and 11 when the Blackhawks won it all in 2015. …

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