Andrew Shaw strode to the lectern, greeting the media for the first time since he was hurt early in the second round.
“You guys miss me?” Shaw said to laughs. According to his Chicago Blackhawks teammates, he’s brought the volume back in the locker room, too.
“Everything in general is a little louder,” Ben Smith said with a laugh. “(There’s also) a little more energy, which is good. You need a little more jump. He adds that spark and we’re excited to get him back whenever that may be. But things are definitely a little louder around here.”
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Shaw practiced with his teammates for the first time since getting hurt but coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t sure he’d play on Wednesday, when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.
Quenneville said Shaw “was OK” in his first practice with his teammates; he’d skated on his own Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
“It’s his first time with the group there and he hasn’t skated (with us) in a while, so we’re not sure yet on tomorrow,” Quenneville said.
Shaw was not among the team’s top four lines on Tuesday; he was wearing the white fifth-line sweather, along with Jeremy Morin and Joakim Nordstrom. It’s been a long haul for Shaw, who’s skated for several days now but has obviously missed the day-to-day routine and, of course, the games.
“Horrible,” said Shaw on how he’s felt being an onlooker. “You want to be out there helping your team to win. The guys did well; we beat out a good Minnesota team. We came out hard in the first game against the Kings. It sucks to sit back and watch (but) I'd rather be 100 percent come back and be there for the long run.”
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With that in mind, don’t be surprised if the Blackhawks hold Shaw out until Game 3, which isn’t until Saturday. It would give the feisty forward a few more days to recover, get back to speed and get more practices in with the team. The Blackhawks have found good chemistry among their four lines again, as they’re rolling more consistently. Quenneville said if this were a critical situation, he’d probably have a determined-to-play Shaw on his hands.
“We look back, it could’ve been Game 7 last Thursday (vs. the Wild), we probably would’ve had to fight him not to play him,” Quenneville said. “But having time here, doing the right thing, giving him some extra time is something that’s part of the decision as well.”
As much as Shaw wanted to be back yesterday, he’ll respect the decision on when he plays.
“It's good to be back. It sucks being away from the guys; we have such a tight-knit group. It's all smiles to be back out there with them,” Shaw said. “I feel like I'm ready to play but that's not my decision to make. I'm getting prepared like I'm going to play tomorrow but, like I say, it's not my final decision.”
Shaw is back — just about. The Blackhawks, all kidding aside, like having their vocal forward back in the locker room. They’ll be even happier when he’s back on the ice antagonizing the opposition.
“He was talking. We said when he was out of the lineup the first few days, there was peace and quiet and it felt kind of nice for once but we are glad to have him back,” Jonathan Toews said. “He’s bouncing off the walls and he’s got tons of energy. It’s always good to have a guy like that.”