The Chicago Blackhawks have the deepest roster in hockey.
It’s a simple statement, and one that seems less debatable as the Blackhawks continue to have success, year to year.
Right now, they’re just one win away from capturing their third Stanley Cup in six seasons.
On a team where the star power is very evident, with the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith, sometimes the Blackhawks’ depth takes a back-seat. This has not been the case during the Stanley Cup Final, however.
The Blackhawks haven’t received a goal from Kane yet this series. Instead, the likes of Teuvo Teravainen, Kris Versteeg, and Andrew Shaw have stepped up for the ‘Hawks.
It’s a move from center to the wing that has benefited the former, and in return, the Blackhawks as well.
Andrew Shaw had his share of struggles, this season: his lack of production as the ‘Hawks third-line center was disappointing, and alarming, as the Blackhawks are usually used to seeing contributions from that far down the depth chart.
It was a trade deadline deal that brought Antoine Vermette to the Windy City, restoring some of Chicago’s depth down the middle. As a result, Shaw was not only bumped down to the fourth line, but put on the wing also, as Marcus Kruger continued to platoon the Blackhawks’ checking line.
It took a while to get Shaw going, as it did with Vermette, in their new positions. Now, with the Blackhawks on the cusp of another championship, the corner has officially been turned for #65.
The Blackhawks are up 3-2 in the Final for a simple reason: their depth is out-working that of their opponents. The Tampa Bay Lightning have received the same contribution from Steven Stamkos as the Blackhawks have from Patrick Kane: none. However, the Blackhawks’ depth is doing a better job of picking up the slack, with big goals at key moments.
Shaw is regarded as the Blackhawks’ most physical winger, and on a team where speed usually kills the opponent, his checking game often flies under the radar. However, in a world as tough as Stanley Cup Playoffs hockey, and when the season drags into June, Shaw continues to be the little engine that can.
His stat line so far in the Final could be considered unimpressive, if one was to gauge the 23-year-old’s play simply on paper. However, Shaw’s 15-or-so minutes a night are extremely effective for the Blackhawks.
Just as he did in 2013, if the Blackhawks are to win the Cup, Shaw will certainly be remembered as an unsung hero for his contributions. Moving forward, Shaw’s position will be an interesting one, as the Blackhawks may keep him on the wing permanently next season, and search for a new bottom-six center.
Ask anyone around the Blackhawks’ camp about those hypotheticals, however, and you’re certain to get no response. All that matters today, is the Blackhawks lifting Lord Stanley.
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