Andrew Shaw summarized his feelings succinctly after Monday’s practice.
“I feel great, energized,” he said. “Ready to get this started.”
He’d probably feel that way regardless. It is, after all, that postseason time of year, and it’s never difficult for these guys to get up for a series with the St. Louis Blues. But for he and a few other injured Blackhawks the energized level may be that much higher.
Shaw will be good to go for Game 1, as will Marian Hossa and Artem Anisimov, when the Blackhawks face the Blues on Wednesday night. Those three, who missed the last few games with injuries – Shaw and Anisimov were upper body while Hossa was lower – practiced on Monday. Andrew Ladd did not but coach Joel Quenneville said he was fine and would practice on Tuesday.
For the Blackhawks overall, entering this series healthy is critical. The break benefits those individuals, too.
“It definitely helps, especially obviously what I had, definitely the pause was good for me. Now I feel like I did before,” Hossa said. “Obviously, the good thing after the first time I injured myself, I play I think around eight games. So I didn’t miss that many games this time and I can be ready to go.”
Corey Crawford played his first game in nearly a month on Saturday night. While he gave up five goals, it was nevertheless a good opportunity to shake off some of the rust he had during his upper-body injury. Crawford said he’s felt better with each passing day.
“Today was a big step in practice,” he said. “That game was a big step. I mean, numbers-wise it didn’t look so good, but just getting in there and getting a feel for the speed – little details, stuff you don’t see in practice – was definitely important.”
Quenneville said Crawford looked even better Monday.
“I thought he did a good job in the last game, but I thought he was outstanding here today,” he said. “He looked like he hasn’t missed a beat. It’s the best we’ve seen him on the ice. He looked like he was himself.”
When facing the Blues, the Blackhawks don’t need much more reason to be motivated. Getting healthy at the right time, however, is a wonderful incentive.
“It’s nice to get a little extra rest, makes me more hungry to get things started,” Shaw said. “I’m just excited for Wednesday.”