Blackhawks

Shaw's energy, instincts fit well with Hawks

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Shaw's energy, instincts fit well with Hawks

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.

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

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USA TODAY

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

The wait is almost over.

After missing nearly 10 months with a concussion, Corey Crawford said he expects to start on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. An official decision will come following the team's morning skate.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. ... It was a pretty long process. But I think the most important thing was not to rush anything. When I finally was out, it got to a point where I wasn’t in shape to play and it was time to rest and it’s unfortunate it took a lot longer than I would’ve liked. 

"It’s been long, but finally, just to get back and be practicing with the team has meant a lot. It’s good to get to this point now when you’re really close to playing. Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

Crawford's last appearance in an NHL game was Dec. 23, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action before getting pulled. So of course, emotions will naturally be running high, especially in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm sure I'll be a little anxious getting into it," Crawford said. "Some nerves. But we'll see. We'll wait until the morning, but I'm definitely excited I can tell you that."

It's obviously terrific news for the Blackhawks, who have picked up eight out of a possible 10 points to start the season and are getting their two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie back between the pipes. It's been a long time coming, and Crawford is coming back into a healthy situation where the Blackhawks are in a good spot in the standings.

"It's great news, I'm sure it'll be exciting for him exciting for our team, exciting for our fans and the organization as well," Patrick Kane said. "It’s probably a good situation all around. Cam [Ward] has done a great job of playing in the net so far. Crow is really good in practice right now, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back, too. We’ve had a good start here. It’s something we want to keep going, and I’m sure him coming back on home ice, in front of our crowd, will be a fun one for him and for our team."

There's no doubting how important Crawford is the team and organization. While there may be a little bit of rust early on, the Blackhawks are expecting him to look like his old self.

"He means a lot to the team," Quenneville said. "We felt last year was a good example of how important he was and how well he was playing for us, as well. We’ve gotten off to a decent start and he was a big factor in it. We know that goaltending is such a big part of the team and your success a lot of nights depends on him and his consistency’s always been in place.

"But he looks good in the net. He’s been off for a long, long time. Is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in."

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

All of the good graces Bill Belichick may have won on Tuesday afternoon -- when he compared the Bears' offense to Kansas City's -- are officially gone. 

Today, when talking to reporters, a Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison came up. Belichick, who coached LT as the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator in the 1980s, was NOT having it: 

"Wait a minute, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now. I’m not putting anybody in (LT’s) class. Put everybody down below that. With a lot of respect to a lot of good players, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor."

A bit harsh, Bill. 

For what it's worth, here's Khalil Mack's 2018 projection, assuming his latest ankle injury doesn't make him miss time: 

20 sacks, four interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries

That's .5 sacks less and four INTS, 16 FFs and 4 recoveries more than LT had in his 1986 MVP season. And yeah, maybe "they didn't record tackles/fumbles in 1986" and "16 forced fumbles would not only blow the current record (10) out of the water but is just plain unrealistic" but whatever, we're just sayin'. 

UPDATE: shocker, LT agrees: