DALLAS – Bryan Bickell was assessing linemate Andrew Shaw’s adjustments to center when Shaw walked into the room.
“I think he needs to work on his faceoffs a little bit. As of late he’s been struggling,” said Bickell, elevating his voice volume on cue. All kidding aside however, Bickell gave Shaw good marks at center.
“You know what? He’s been good at doing what the coaches ask him to do,” he said. “I know at the start he was nervous about playing center, but I think he’s found his way.”
Shaw has gotten more comfortable in his center role, anchoring a third line that’s been pretty consistent throughout this season. Shaw played some center in Rockford during the lockout; still, when he was put there to start this season, it was still a bit of a surprise. But coach Joel Quenneville likes what he sees from Shaw’s game.
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“He’s really progressed at center,” Quenneville said. “When he’s down low, he knows his positioning. Offensively, he wants the puck, but I think he’s getting better as far as his awareness without the puck. Offensively, it’s just natural for him. But he’s done a real nice job.”
Shaw likes what he’s been able to do in the first half of this season, especially in supporting others.
“Those little figure eights in front of our net, supporting the defense in the corner,” Shaw said. “Obviously I have to work on faceoffs. I have to key dow and focus. There are a lot of good centers in the league, and I just have to practice as much as I can. Other than that, I think I’ve improved pretty well in supporting all over the ice.”
As far as faceoffs, that’s been a bane for the Blackhawks for a while now. Outside of Jonathan Toews, several players have struggled in the circle. Shaw is currently winning 43.7 percent of his (107 won, 138 lost).
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“It’s technique, there’s speed and power. Depending on who you’re going against, whether they’re left-handed or right-handed, there are lot of combinations you can throw at them,” he said. “Some guys have been in the league longer than me, they have more tricks up their sleeve. There are a lot of bigger guys with more power. I have to key in on being quick and tying up sticks as much as possible.”
And he’ll look to fellow Blackhawks for advice.
“Toews, (Jamal Mayers), they’ve both been pretty good to me. They teach me things any chance they get. They let me know what guy does what, if I’m going against a righty or lefty,” Shaw said. “They’ve been helping me with my success.”
Shaw’s had a good amount of that so far this season at center. The faceoffs will come. The rest of the game is coming along nicely.
“He has nice skill around the net, he finds the puck well, he can be an agitator and compliment offense and the team game,” Quenneville said. “He brings a lot to the game.”
Notes from Dallas
Corey Crawford will get the start Saturday night against the Dallas Stars.
Patrick Sharp skated back in Chicago on Thursday and again today, Quenneville said. The left wing is making progress off a shoulder injury sustained on March 6 against Colorado.