Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Andrew Shaw is playing his game again

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Blackhawks: Andrew Shaw is playing his game again

Andrew Shaw loves hockey. He’s fought hard to get here and made his mark agitating opponents, getting to the net and scoring hard-fought goals.

But when this season began, that usual ready-to-go feeling just wasn’t there.

“I don’t know what it was at the start of the year, whether I was fatigued, not into it, just mentally and physically drained,” Shaw said. “But lately I feel I’ve gotten back to my in-your-face type of hockey, going to the net, going to the dirty areas. That’s how I’m going to have success in this league.”

That’s how he’s had a lot more success lately.

Shaw is looking and playing like himself again. He’s had two goals and three assists in his last four games – there was just about another goal on Friday against Toronto, but it was reversed on a coach’s challenge. Shaw bounced around the lines through the first part of the season but he’s played on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa for several games now. And as coach Joel Quenneville recognized, Shaw is doing what’s necessary to stay on that line.

[MORE HAWKS: Hat-trick Kane leads Blackhawks past Leafs for 10th straight win]

“He’s been good,” Quenneville said. “That line’s coming off two good games on the production side of things. Shawzy’s been around the puck and gets two goals [on Tuesday vs. Nashville] basically because he’s around the net.”

Hossa said Shaw’s gotten back to what got him here in the first place.

“He does such a great job disturbing, going to the net. It’s great to have him on the team because, when things aren’t going well, he can disturb anything. All of a sudden, something’s happening out of nothing,” Hossa said. “There’s something special about him; the energy just surges from him.”

That energy, however, wasn’t there in the fall. Was it residual from the end of last season? Shaw played with a bad back in the Stanley Cup final; it seized up the morning of Game 6 and he spent all that day at the United Center, getting his back worked on so he could play in that Cup-clinching game.

Shaw didn’t say if his back was still bothering him to start the season but, with the quick turnaround after another Cup victory, he definitely wasn’t feeling 100 percent.

[SHOP: Buy an Andrew Shaw jersey]

“I mean, you look at how much we’ve played, the body obviously was worn down there. Short summer, didn’t really have time to recuperate,” he said. “Now I feel a lot better, the body feels a lot better and the mind as well.”

Indeed, Shaw is feeling as fresh mentally as he is physically. He said he was thinking too much about the game and had to change that.

“I had to turn off the mind, just go home, have fun with friends and family,” he said. “Just leave everything I could at the rink and focus on life itself.”

Shaw is back to his old self. It took some time; the same could be said about the Blackhawks overall this season. But Shaw is once again bringing the game that has benefited him and the Blackhawks so much these last few seasons.

“He knows how he came to the NHL and he doesn’t try to all of a sudden be a skill guy. He understands his role and he’s tried to stick with that role. That’s smart by him,” Hossa said. “He knows what he has to do to be successful to score those goals, so he does it.”

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

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AP

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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USA TODAY

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.