Andrew Shaw wasnt part of the last three games, all overtime, of course. But considering his anxiety level, he might as well have been.I think I was more nervous than anyone on the ice, watching every game go to overtime, Shaw said. I was in the locker room, sweating.Well, Shaw doesnt have to sweat the sitting-on-the-sidelines feeling anymore. The Blackhawks forced another game, and Shaw is ready to get another chance.Andrew Shaw is back in the lineup tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks host the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 6 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series. The Blackhawks are looking to stave off elimination again and force a Game 7 back in Glendale. And Shaws return should definitely provide a spark.The nice thing is, whoevers come into our lineup from watching has done a nice job, said coach Joel Quenneville, referring to Michael Frolik and Brenden Morrisons impact in their returns. Now its Shaw. You get a little energy, appetite from watching, you just cant wait to be a part of it.Shaw served a three-game suspension for his hit on Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith, and the rookie said he knows he has to be careful moving forward. But, that doesnt mean eliminating his style completely.Obviously Im going to play the same way, maybe stay out of it after the whistles. I have to play between the whistles, Shaw said. But still have that gritty play.His teammates and coach dont want him to lose his edge, either.We want him to keep playing hard, and obviously as a team we have to be smart, Jonathan Toews said. But the physical play and the energy he brings, dont want him to temper that at all.As far as possible retribution from the Coyotes, Shaw isnt focused on that.Im just thinking about how Im going to play, he said. Ill stay focused on my game and how Ive been doing.Where Shaw fits in the lineup isnt known at the moment. The Blackhawks, not wanting to show their hand, ran their same lines from Game 5 this morning. And the checking line has altered a bit, with Morrison and Frolik skating with Bolland the last game. No matter where he is, however, theres no doubt Shaws energy will fit in just fine.Hes going to bring a lot of energy to the game, said Bryan Bickell. I know he wasnt too happy being out. But now hes back and hell get the spark and play his game. Hell be huge.
On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd discuss the Blackhawks’ poor effort vs. Detroit, Corey Crawford’s health and what kind of run they will need to go on to make the Staney Cup playoffs.
Konroyd also weighs in on his roster concerns and whether or not the Blackhawks will be buyers or sellers at the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
The Blackhawks are in a position they've never been in under Joel Quenneville. It's mid-January and they find themselves below the playoff line.
To make things even more difficult, they'll be sitting at home or on vacation for the next five days while they watch other Western Conference teams accumulate points during their league-mandated bye week. That means when they return to action on Saturday they'll have lots of ground to make up and minimal margin for error.
So while the Blackhawks should certainly use their down time to recharge both mentally and physically, Quenneville's message to his team is very clear.
"Mentally, get away," he said following a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. "Relax, I guess. Have a little fun. But hockey still has to be in the back of your mind. It’s still going to be on when you’re out there. Certainly knowing it’s going to take a lot more than what we showed in the first half of the season. We’re going to need everyone going all out every single night to have a chance."
And it's alarmingly true.
Here's what the wild card picture looks like going into Monday:
While just three points separate the Blackhawks from the Wild, the Blackhawks are in the worst position among the six teams in the picture. The Stars, who are already ahead by a point, have one game in hand on the Blackhawks, the Sharks have four and the streaking Avalanche have three. Heck, even the Ducks have a game in hand, which means an extra win would put them above the Blackhawks.
Every point is critical for the Blackhawks, not only because it obviously keeps them in the hunt, but because on game's they fail to collect points, they're scoreboard watching five other teams hoping they're coming away with nothing as well.
The Blackhawks will come out of the bye week with three straight home games, and if they don't play with their backs against the wall from here on out, their nine-year playoff streak could be in serious jeopardy.