Andrew Shaw had the reaction most hockey players would when he was promoted to the Blackhawks’ top line.
He was excited, for sure. Teaming with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad will do that. Also a little temptation to try and get style points with those two, right?
“Sometimes. But then you think you don’t want to see that mad face on Q when you get back to the bench,” Shaw said of coach Joel Quenneville. “I just try to simplify and keep things in my ballpark.”
It’s only one game but Shaw’s first full run on the top line was a successful one. It worked for all three of the players, actually. Shaw and Toews each scored two goals (Toews’ second was on a power play, however) and Saad an assist in the Blackhawks’ 6-1 victory over Columbus. Shaw, however, was especially in need of the spark.
The feisty forward had just one point in his previous 11 games before Thursday night’s outing. He didn’t have his usual edge and was looking to get it back any way possible. Cue his top-line chance and breaking out of his slump, starting with that semi-breakaway in the first period.
“Shawzy’s goal was a big one for us,” Quenneville said of that goal, Shaw’s 15th of the season. “That was a heck of a play from the pass (from Sheldon Brookbank) and the way he received it and the shot he made. It was a huge goal from us, and we took off from there.”
Shaw, on that top line in Marian Hossa’s spot, was doing some of the injured winger’s work on Thursday.
“He was working. He was almost like Hoss up there, the way he was working it to try to recover pucks,” Toews said. “It was nice to see him get a few (goals), too.”
Shaw’s biggest offensive asset has been driving to the net, which is where he was when he redirected Brent Seabrook’s shot in the second period. His Blackhawks teammates appreciate him doing a thankless job.
“It’s not easy to go in front of the net. Obviously pucks are coming fast and they can hurt if they hit you. Defensemen are trying to move you out of the way. It’s a spot where you have to be tough and brave to go. We’re thankful we’ve got a guy who will go there on a regular basis,” Duncan Keith said. “Every game he tries to go to the front. We don’t always score, but it’s nice when we do.”
We know how this drill goes: the line will be together as long as it works, or as long as Hossa is sidelined. Quenneville wanted to regenerate some offense; Shaw wanted to do the same with his game. They both got what they wanted in the first outing.
“I thank Q for giving me the chance,” Shaw said, who added the move definitely sparked him. “Yeah, but I have to prepare myself mentally for every game like that. I have to get back to my old ways of throwing the body around, being that kind of player. I have success that way.”