When Andrew Shaw returned to the Blackhawks at the trade deadline, the Blackhawks made it clear what they wanted from him: a lot of energy and a good use of his hockey instincts.
Now as part of the Blackhawks checking line, Shaw has brought that.
Shaw has shown the game he had when he debuted with the Blackhawks, and hes fit right in on the checking line with Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland. Shaws game isnt necessarily about goals. Its about angst, energy and driving hard to the tough areas. And on the checking line Shaw also has to be smart; coach Joel Quenneville appreciates Shaws hockey intelligence.
Shaw has good instincts on both sides of the puck, Quenneville said. Offensively sees and makes plays. But as hes grown, hell learn better how to play off guys, how to play in our own end and be comfortable with linemates.
The checking line was strong against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night and Shaws play earned him a shootout opportunity. Shaw, who had a team-high seven hits against the Kings, said it hasnt been too tough of an adjustment.
I always played kind of a defensive-minded game but I got away from it a bit, Shaw said. Im glad to be a part of that line. Its nice to play a lot of minutes and playing against top players in this league.
Still, theres a lot of defensive responsibility on that line and theres a learning curve. Bickell said Shaw has taken it all in well.
At the start defensively, he was running around a lot. I think the coaches sat him down and told him the role we need him for and the position he needs to be in. He learns quick, Bickell said. Sometimes less is more; just to have the defensive mind and check first and the offense will come.
Shaws gotten that, too, as he tallied his seventh goal of the season on Friday against the New York Rangers. Hes not here for his offense, but with Jonathan Toews out and the Blackhawks needing contributions from everyone, its welcomed.
The Blackhawks wanted Shaw to display that energetic, driven game when he came back at the trade deadline. As part of the checking line, he has.
Hes not a big guy but he acts like a big guy; he goes face-first into everything lately and has a lot of scars because he does that. Thats just the way he is, the drive he has, and thats what I like about him, Bickell said. Hes got the work ethic to play up here. Hes still young and he has a lot to learn, but he will.