Andrew Shaw wasnt part of the last three games, all overtime, of course. But considering his anxiety level, he might as well have been.I think I was more nervous than anyone on the ice, watching every game go to overtime, Shaw said. I was in the locker room, sweating.Well, Shaw doesnt have to sweat the sitting-on-the-sidelines feeling anymore. The Blackhawks forced another game, and Shaw is ready to get another chance.Andrew Shaw is back in the lineup tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks host the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 6 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series. The Blackhawks are looking to stave off elimination again and force a Game 7 back in Glendale. And Shaws return should definitely provide a spark.The nice thing is, whoevers come into our lineup from watching has done a nice job, said coach Joel Quenneville, referring to Michael Frolik and Brenden Morrisons impact in their returns. Now its Shaw. You get a little energy, appetite from watching, you just cant wait to be a part of it.Shaw served a three-game suspension for his hit on Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith, and the rookie said he knows he has to be careful moving forward. But, that doesnt mean eliminating his style completely.Obviously Im going to play the same way, maybe stay out of it after the whistles. I have to play between the whistles, Shaw said. But still have that gritty play.His teammates and coach dont want him to lose his edge, either.We want him to keep playing hard, and obviously as a team we have to be smart, Jonathan Toews said. But the physical play and the energy he brings, dont want him to temper that at all.As far as possible retribution from the Coyotes, Shaw isnt focused on that.Im just thinking about how Im going to play, he said. Ill stay focused on my game and how Ive been doing.Where Shaw fits in the lineup isnt known at the moment. The Blackhawks, not wanting to show their hand, ran their same lines from Game 5 this morning. And the checking line has altered a bit, with Morrison and Frolik skating with Bolland the last game. No matter where he is, however, theres no doubt Shaws energy will fit in just fine.Hes going to bring a lot of energy to the game, said Bryan Bickell. I know he wasnt too happy being out. But now hes back and hell get the spark and play his game. Hell be huge.
Jonathan Toews sounded somewhat frustrated but cognizant of the situation.
If it were the postseason there’s no doubt he would be playing right now. That’s not a surprise to hear, considering what hockey players put themselves through when the playoffs start. But this is early December. There are too many games remaining. And with it coming down to making sure he’s healthy for the long haul, it’s an easy call.
Toews practiced on Friday for the first time since being hurt, but he won’t travel to Philadelphia when the Blackhawks face the Flyers on Saturday afternoon. It will be the fifth consecutive game Toews has missed since he was hurt against the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 23. Still, him skating on his own and then practicing with teammates for a few minutes is a good sign that Toews is closing in on a return.
“Just come back and check in again [Saturday], see how it is and hopefully, I guess as they say, re-evaluate for Sunday,” Toews said on Friday. “It’s never fun to miss any time, especially when the team is playing as many games as they are. So nice to get back out there and move around and get going a little bit.”
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Toews was placed on injured reserve on Friday, retroactive to Nov. 24, the day after he was injured. Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll see how Toews feels on Saturday and, “we’ll get a better idea going forward. But he’s not on the trip.”
“You gotta be fully recovered and want to make sure guys are 100 percent before they can play,” Quenneville said. “Jonny plays at a certain pace and it’s all out, so let’s make sure he’s more than ready when he’s coming back.”
Several have reported that Toews has a back injury, and the captain was doing several back stretches during Friday’s session. Toews left in the second period of the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Sharks, moments after he went down awkwardly. But Toews said he wasn’t hurt on that play.
“I think it was just something that started to aggravate in the first period. I tried playing in the second and that instance right there, just went down like a ton of bricks,” Toews said. “I was trying not to aggravate the injury more than I already had. That wasn’t where I got hurt; [it was] probably the instance people were looking for to see what the explanation was.”
If this were April and the playoffs were about to begin, Toews probably wouldn’t be as patient with his injury. But it isn’t, and he will be. It’s not worth making worse. The Blackhawks have managed to get points in his absence, going 3-0-1 so far.
“It’s the type of thing most guys would be able to suck up and play if it were a playoff game and putting everything on the line. But at this point, with the amount of games left in the season, it’s not something you want to continuously deal with,” he said. “If you aggravate it, it’ll keep coming back to haunt you. It’s tough to hold back and do less than you know you can, but in the long run, trying to make sure I get back to 100 percent.”
- Trevor van Riemsdyk was activated off the injured-reserve list and is expected to play against the Flyers.
- Marian Hossa took practice off. He is expected to play.
- Corey Crawford will start vs. Philadelphia.
Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Jamal Mayers have the latest on Joel Quenneville's group in this edition of the Blackhawks Road Ahead, sponsored by Chicagoland NW Indiana Honda dealers.
The Blackhawks are once again taking care of business, going 3-0-1 with their captain Jonathan Toews on the sideline. They're also 6-2-2 against the East this year, and they'll get another chance to add to that record when they take on the Flyers this week.
Here's what our Blackhawks Postgame Live crew had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Aehad.