Andrew Shaw wasn’t sure whom his fellow linemates would be entering Sunday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
The Chicago Blackhawks forward was struggling, as a few were the past few games. So it probably was somewhat surprising when Shaw saw he was the latest second-line center, flanked by Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane.
Not a bad draw, really, and one that jump-started Shaw on a strong night for himself.
“Coming into tonight, seeing I was playing with Kaner and Saad, I knew I had to work as hard as I could,” said Shaw, who scored his 12th goal on Sunday, snapping a six-game point-less skid. “I got one. It was good to get that monkey off my back.”
Shaw looked more like Shaw on Sunday night, from the big hit he laid on the Oilers’ Mark Arcobello in the opening minutes to that goal that ended his personal point drought. And in the revolving door that’s known as the second-line center role, Shaw’s the latest to get his chance there.
Coach Joel Quenneville was pleased with the results, be it Shaw individually or that second line.
“He got into the game right off the bat with a big hit, scored a nice goal, nice play off the rush. That line was dangerous and had a lot of different looks off the entries,” Quenneville said. “That was good for their first time together. That gave us a different look as a team.”
Shaw was as frustrated as anyone entering the weekend. Prior to Saturday’s game, Shaw talked about the need to do more.
“I just don’t think I’ve been playing my best,” he said Saturday. “There’s more in the tank I can give and I just haven’t been giving everything. Maybe it’s the way I’m focusing in games or the way I’m preparing, but I have to better myself.”
About 36 hours later, Shaw was understandably happier. He redirected Niklas Hjalmarsson’s shot for a goal and nearly did the same on Brent Seabrook’s goal – it went off an Oilers player, although Shaw joked he was trying to take credit for it. Besides being that net-front presence, power play or not, Shaw’s expected to bring energy. He wasn’t lacking in that on Sunday.
“I think I needed it, big time,” Shaw said of his Sunday outing. “I was obviously down on myself. My confidence wasn’t high.”
So what does he need to do now that he’s playing with a playmaker like Kane?
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“Get him the puck and get open,” Shaw said. “He knows what to do. As long as I work for him, he’ll work for me as well.”
Shaw broke out of his on-ice doldrums on Sunday night. He got a line promotion entering that contest and ran with it. Who knows how long it will last; Marcus Kruger’s shot there lasted about 10 minutes. But it’s Shaw’s turn, and if he can keep bringing the energy and get you-know-who the puck, it could work out well.
“They took advantage of it tonight across the board. That line was dangerous,” Quenneville said. “(Shaw’s) got a couple nice wingers who hang onto the puck. Defensively, if they take care of business, it has the makings of a solid line for us.”