CHICAGO - Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks and Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker and Jonas Brodin of the Minnesota Wild are being counted on for key minutes in the NHL playoffs this year.
It doesn't matter that they're rookies.
Saad played 21 minutes and had two shots in the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime win over Minnesota in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series. It was the first career playoff game for Coyle, Zucker and Brodin, who will be back on the ice when the series resumes on Friday night.
Saad came into his own this year, when he had 10 goals and 17 assists in 46 games. He also led all NHL rookies with a plus-17 rating. He says playing on the same line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa has certainly helped.