Found March 06, 2013 on Steel City Sports Report:
In case you haven't heard, the Chicago Blackhawks have gone 23 games without losing a game in regulation. They've also won ten in a row (a franchise record), amassing a record of 20-0-3. All with a rookie playing on their top line.Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad has played in all but one of those historic games so far this season. He is currently playing on a line with captain Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa; big company for a 20 year old kid. The result has been a modest four goals and four assists with a plus six rating.Saad, a second round pick in the 2011 draft, was considered a future top-six forward when he was selected by the Blackhawks. Less than two seasons later, the future appears to be now for both Saad and the first place Hawks. While his point total doesn't scream Calder Trophy, and the team would still be plenty talented without him, Chicago views Saad as a major impact."He's an absolute beast out there. He's so strong and fearless," said captain Jonathan Toews, "he's got his head up more and more, and you see those plays with Hossa and I. We're getting better and better as a line." (quote courtesy of ESPN Chicago)That should be the same pathway for Beau Bennett and the Pittsburgh Penguins. While Bennett is seen less as a power forward (like Saad) and more as a playmaker, he still fits on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. Bennett's skill set allows him to play on a line with world-class talent, something that eluded Eric Tangradi and Zach Boychuk during his tenure in Pittsburgh. Bennett has the ability to score goals and keep up with the big boys. He also added a little physicality to his game, allowing him to play effectively in Dan Bylsma's system. At 6'2, 210 he is almost identical in size to Brandon Saad only with better puck-handling and more professional experience if you include the AHL. He can make an impact on an already dangerous scoring line possibly lifting Malkin and Neal's game up just a little higher.But it is going to take some time, which the Penguins currently have at the moment. The trade deadline is a month away giving Ray Shero the perfect window to see whether or not Bennett is ready for a top six role this season. If he produces, Shero could focus on other needs like a veteran defenseman and bottom six forwards.I don't think production will be an issue for Bennett and the Penguins. Just through these eight games it's pretty clear the stage isn't too big for the former roller hockey player from California. He'll make rookie mistakes along the way, but he'll also battle for pucks in the corner, setup his teammates for scoring chances, and cash in on chances of his own. It's up to Dan Bylsma to keep Bennett on that second line, even if he struggles every now and then. Remember, it took Brandon Saad nine games to score his first goal and he started the season on the top line. It took Bennett five games to light the lamp. If he's going to play with elite players, he needs more than a few shifts. The Blackhawks were patient with their rookie, it would be wise for the Penguins to learn from them; especially since the teacher has yet to lose.
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