Andrew Shaw got the message of keeping the edge with discipline, mainly from his coach. He also got it from veteran center Michal Handzus.
“Handzus sat down with me, had a good chat with me,” Shaw said. “He said, ‘You’ve got to control your emotions and use them in the right way.’ I just have to be calm and play physical, go to the net and good things will come from it.”
The talk, apparently, was heeded.
Shaw went from being constant penalty-box denizen in Game 3 to controlled net-front pest in Game 5, and his work and disciplined earned him two goals in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night. It was a better night all around for the Blackhawks and especially Shaw, who was crossing the line between behaving and being a liability too often.
[RELATED: Shaw (two goals) joins Blackhawks PGL]
The pesky forward helped get the Blackhawks off their power-play scheid, planting in front and deflecting Duncan Keith’s shot from the point. Shaw got a lot of credit for that, but he was deflecting most of it.
“I just stand in front of the net and the guys are passing the puck around, making great plays. That’s what we need to do,” he said. “It’s my job. That’s why I’m in there. Find loose pucks and rebounds and try to take his eyes away.”
Corey Crawford said that net-front presence is important.
“You have to have that,” he said. “Goalies are good and when they’re seeing the puck all the time it’s something that gets them in the game. It’s easier when you’re seeing it, so we were able to get more bodies and pucks to the net (on Saturday).”
Shaw’s other job is to be a curmudgeonly presence, be it on the power play or as part of the Blackhawks’ third line. It’s not an easy job, especially for a guy Shaw’s size (5-foot-11, 165 pounds). But he needed to get better at controlling his emotions, and Handzus’ talk apparently did some good.
Coach Joel Quenneville said hearing from a guy like that is helpful.
“Handzy’s been around. He’s a very intelligent player and he knows what Shaw brings to our team,” Quenneville said. “You’ve got (to get) a guy knowing when to cool it, when’s the next call going to come, when am I going to score. You don’t want to push it too far.”
As far as that abrasive play, Quenneville doesn’t want Shaw to lose it. Just to control it.
“Shaw has to play with that edge. He’s a smaller guy against bigger guys but that doesn’t distract him going into the hard areas,” he said. “He’s relentless, and at this time of year it’s a big component to our team.”
Shaw has to stay on the right side of that discipline line the rest of this postseason. He took a big step toward that in Game 5.