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.
“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.”