Shaw suspended three games for hit

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Shaw suspended three games for hit

It took quite a while for Brendan Shanahan to make his ruling on Andrew Shaws hit on Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith. When he did, it was noticeable.

Shaw was suspended three games for his hit on Smith in Game 2 of the Blackhawks first-round series with the Coyotes. It seemed a harsh ruling, when compared with some of the others that have come down recently. It also took long enough to come; the ruling was announced around 2 p.m. Central time, just six hours before the Blackhawks and Coyotes dropped the puck for Game 3 at the United Center.

Shaw will miss tonights game, as well as Games 4 and 5. Michael Frolik is his likely replacement. Smith finished Game 2 but did not practice Monday. While Smith participated in morning skate on Tuesday, coach Dave Tippett said the goaltender was a game-time decision.

In his video explanation of the ruling, Shanahan said that a goalkeeper is not fair game, just because hes outside the crease area.

However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease, provided the attacking player has made reasonable effort to avoid such contact, said Shanahan. Shaw does not make a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.

Whats more, this is not a skater and goaltender colliding while pursuing a loose puck. Shaw skates a considerable distance and hits the head of stationary goaltender who has possession of the puck. There is no opposing player near Shaw, therefore the path he takes to Smith is entirely up to him, and the onus is on him to make every effort to avoid the goalie.

Shanahan said the NHL took into consideration the fact that Smith remained in the game and suffered no apparent injury. He also took into consideration that Shaw has no prior finessuspensions in his brief NHL career.

The Coyotes were not happy from the hit from the start, and never backed down from their opinions. That includes Tippett, who reiterated his thoughts on it this morning.

Its a blatant hit to the head, with no intent to miss the goalie, Tippett said. Ive gone through a lot of these meetings with the NHL. Thats the exact same hit theyre trying to take out of the game.

Now the Blackhawks will go on without Shaw, whose energy and aggressive play has been critical down the stretch.

Hes really come along since he came up the second time, Patrick Sharp said. Hell be in their face, quick to pucks and he goes to puck areas hard. Hes a key player for us.

Jamal Mayers echoed the same sentiment.

You lose a lot of energy, he said. Im sure the other team has to be aware where he is. Hes not afraid to go to those tough areas. Hes been chipping in, in a lot of areas for us.

See the complete explanation video below:

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

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USA TODAY

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

There were six teams deserving of reaching the College Football Playoff this season. But there were only four spots.

But what if there were more spots?

An expansion of the Playoff field to eight teams has seemed inevitable from the day the four-team system was announced. Four more Playoff games means oodles more TV viewers, which means oodles more dollars.

And then we wouldn't be having all these arguments, either — but that's nonsense because of course we would, trying to figure out who got snubbed from the expanded bracket.

But this season's emphasis on the conference-champion debate might kick the efforts to expand the Playoff into high gear. Just take it from NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Now, technically speaking, there are 10 FBS conferences, each of which crowns a champion at the end of every football season. Emmert is obviously referring to the Power Five conferences: the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. He might want to pick his words a bit more carefully, considering he represents the other five conferences — the American, Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt — too, but his point remains understood.

This season has sparked a ton of controversy as the Playoff selection committee opted for the first time to include a team that did not win its conference, Ohio State, and it picked the Buckeyes over the Big Ten champs, Penn State. Plus, Big 12 champion Oklahoma was passed over in favor of non-champion Ohio State, too, actually falling behind another non-champion from the Big Ten, Michigan, in the final Playoff rankings.

With that decision brought the reasonable question of how much a conference championship should matter in getting a team into the final four and competing for a national championship.

The Playoff committee's mission is to pick the country's four best teams, and there aren't many people out there that will argue that Ohio State isn't one of the country's four best teams. But there's something to be said for winning a conference championship because if the Buckeyes can waltz into the Playoff without even playing in the Big Ten title game, why even have a conference championship game — besides, obviously, earning one more night of big-time TV money.

And so the call for an expanded Playoff bracket has reached perhaps its greatest volume in the short time the Playoff has existed. The obvious solution to Power Five conference champions continually being boxed out is to lock in five spots on the bracket for the five conference champions. Then, guarantee a spot for the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, and you're left with two "at-large" spots that this season would've gone to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest-profile programs in the country sure to drive TV viewership in battles against conference-champion Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State and Oklahoma teams. And P.J. Fleck's undefeated Western Michigan squad takes the final slot.

That's quite the field. But if you think it would've solved all this year's problems, you're wrong. Still there would've been outcry that red-hot USC didn't make the field. The Trojans are playing so well that they could very well win the whole thing, despite their three early season losses. That debate over snubs will exist forever, no matter the size of the field, something we see play out each and every season in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Also, what a damper an expanded bracket would put on the final few weeks of the regular season. Ohio State's game against Michigan, the highest-rated game of the college football season with more than 16 million people watching, would've been effectively meaningless. No matter who won or lost, both teams would've made that eight-team field, right?

Additionally, another round of Playoff football would expand the season to 16 games for some teams. That means more physical demands on student-athletes and a season cutting deep into January, which would impact their educational and time demands.

But again, an expansion of the Playoff bracket has always seemed inevitable. There's too much money to be made, and at the same time fans seem to be all about that idea. People love the postseason for good reason, and the win-or-go-home nature of the NFL playoffs make those games the most-watched sporting events of the year.

Now the NCAA president is chiming in with hopes of an expanded field. So really isn't it just a matter of time?

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

CSN's Chris Boden and Tracey Myers have the latest on the Blackhawks in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

From an injury standpoint, it's been a tough few weeks for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are down two key players in captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford, and now may be without defenseman Brent Seabrook who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

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While the Blackhawks haven't had much luck on the injury front, their upcoming two opponents are in the same boat.

"You look at the New York Rangers, a very talented team, but this is what every team goes through every season. Your depth gets tested," Myers said.

Check out what else Boden and Myers had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Ahead