Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith good to go vs. Blues

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Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith good to go vs. Blues

Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews will play and Corey Crawford will start when the Blackhawks host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night.

Neither Keith nor Toews skated this morning but it was just a rest day for both of them, coach Joel Quenneville said.

Brandon Mashinter was back on the fourth line with Richard Panik and Dennis Rasmussen. Jiri Sekac, who made his Blackhawks debut on Friday, skated in Toews’ place at morning skate and looks to be a healthy scratch tonight.

The Blackhawks have been trying to get their rest when they can, which hasn’t been easy given their incredibly busy schedule. Tonight marks their 52nd game of the season. They’ll get no sympathy from the Blues, who have played the same amount.

“I think both teams are in the same place,” Quenneville said. “We’ve played a real busy month here. There’s some time off down the road but it’s an important game for both teams and both teams have played well through this stretch. It’s a great test for us here. They have balance to their lineup, guys returningfrom injury, so they’re deeper than they’ve been most of the season. So it’ll be a good challenge to see how we bounce back off these two tough losses. We have to try to play a real good team game tonight.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks won a franchise-best 12 in a row before losing their last two. St. Louis is 5-1-4 in their last 10; they’re getting points but there were several games in which they blew late regulation leads and ended up overtime or shootout losses. The Blackhawks looked like they were fatigued in their 4-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Friday night. Still, regardless of where their energy level is, they usually don’t need much motivation to get ready for the Blues.

“I mean, obviously it’s a big rivalry and against this team we always find a way to bring our best,” Marian Hossa said. “After two not-really-good games in Florida, we need to bounce back.”

Andrew Shaw trying to find balance between toeing the line and not crossing it for Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw trying to find balance between toeing the line and not crossing it for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks brought Andrew Shaw back to Chicago because they lacked some bite to their game. He's already meeting expectations in the physicality department, leading the team with 23 hits.

But the other part of his game the Blackhawks have to live with is the amount of penalties he takes. Through six games this season, Shaw has taken at least one penalty in five of them and is tied for third among all NHL skaters with six minors. The only two skaters above him are guys who have played in two and four more games, respectively.

Because he plays on the edge, Shaw will occasionally cross it and he's trying to find that balance between toeing the line and not stepping over it.

"I find if I'm not playing on the edge, I'm not playing great," Shaw said. "I need to play physical. Even in preseason, I was just finishing checks — clean, shoulder-to-shoulder — and was getting penalty after penalty. Hockey still is a physical game. There's still hitting; it's still legal. So I'm going to go out there and play hard, make it hard on my opponents, make it hard on them physically, do what I do. Not going to change who I am now. I'm an old dog."

Shaw's reputation may also contribute to the matter. He's racked up more than 600 penalty minutes in his NHL career, including postseason, and the officials might be keeping a closer eye on him when he's on the ice.

"It's something he's got to be aware of, but I also think he's got a bullseye on him," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "If I go back through all the penalties he's taken, he probably earned a couple and he probably earned them five years ago. That's something he's got to deal with. We want him to play hard. I think we can handle the ones where he's running people over. We'll kill those off. Obviously the stick penalties and stuff we don't want. But he's playing hard for the team. That's a good thing."

Said Shaw: "The referees, no matter the history of the player, should call the game as it is. If there's a penalty, call a penalty. If there's not a penalty, you let it go. I mean, yeah, I might have been too vocal in my younger days. But the past three years I've been trying to clean it up a little bit. I just take my penalties when I get 'em. But I must have dug myself a really deep hole. Just trying to climb out of it since."

Still, Shaw knows he has to be smarter about the timing of his penalties and where they're happening. The ones that occur in the offensive zone are the penalties that must be eradicated from his game. The ones he earns from battling between the whistles and sticking up for his teammates, the Blackhawks can live with those.

"Obviously I don't want to take penalties, I don't want to put my team down," Shaw said. "I also don't agree with all of the ones I got. I think I got the short end of the stick on a lot of them. Bite my tongue, go to the box. Our PK's been working hard and competing and killing some penalties. Hopefully they start going my way, I guess."

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Robin Lehner to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights

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USA Today

Robin Lehner to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights

Robin Lehner will start in goal for the Blackhawks when they host the Vegas Golden Knights at the United Center on Tuesday, coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed after morning skate. It will be his third start of the season.

Lehner is coming off a game in which he stopped 37 of 39 shots for a save percentage of .949, which earned him the No. 3 star of the game in a 3-2 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. He was fantastic. 

Lehner is 1-0-1 with a 2.47 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in two starts this season.

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