It seems like it’s been an eternity since Andrew Shaw was in the Chicago Blackhawks’ lineup. It’s now been over two weeks, and a full round of playoff hockey, since #65 hit the ice in game action, but for the most part, the Blackhawks have fared well without him. Although his recovery seems to be inching along at a snails’ pace, it will make the Blackhawks even more dangerous when Shaw steps back in the lineup.
Shaw is the kind of player any team would want in their rotation against the L.A. Kings, who have made their way to the Western Conference Final with a combination of stellar team defense, some miraculous comebacks, and one of the best physical games in the NHL. Shaw’s style of play is the antidote to all that; #65 plays a full 60 minutes (or more) each game, has proven to be one of the game’s best agitators, and isn’t afraid to throw his weight around.
It seems like a much better option than #52 for the Blackhawks, Brandon Bollig. Bollig’s untimely offensive-zone penalty on Wednesday night resulted in a power-play goal, triggering the third-period landslide that lost the Blackhawks the game, and the potential 2-0 series lead. His assist that night was also only his third point since signing his much-publicized three-year contract extension, simply not good enough for either coach Joel Quenneville, or Blackhawks’ management.
It seems the Blackhawks are due for a shakeup in their lineup on Saturday regardless of Shaw’s availability: the Blackhawks are 5-1 in these playoffs when Sheldon Brookbank is in the lineup, and #17 has amassed a solid +4 rating with two assists in his six games this post-season. Jeremy Morin is ripe for a return to the rotation also, and could be the one replacing Bollig on the Marcus Kruger–Ben Smith fourth line, that finally found their offense with a goal in Game Two.
However, now that the Kings have the oh-so-important last change in the next two games at the Staples Center, the Blackhawks will simply need a full effort from all four lines. It is more than likely that the ‘Hawks will get caught on an icing call, or that Darryl Sutter will put out the top guns of Marian Gaborik–Anze Kopitar–Mike Richards when Jonathan Toews‘ top line isn’t on the ice, so Shaw’s assistance will be much-needed come Saturday.
Blackhawks fans are holding out hope that one of the teams’ fan favorites will be back in action on Saturday, and Andrew Shaw has the ability to be the spark the team needs to bounce back from their worst period of hockey in Game Two of these playoffs, and try to squeeze out two road wins in one of the toughest arenas in the entire National Hockey League.
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