Andrew Shaw was in front of the net again, deflecting a shot again, this time off the shaft of his stick. Again, he didnt mind how the goal came.
Ill take it, he said. And considering the points he and fellow checking liners Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland have put up lately, so will the Blackhawks.
The checking lines mantra is always the same: defense comes first. But lately, theyve also been coming with plenty of offense. Bickell, Bolland and Shaw have combined for 13 points in the Blackhawks last three games. And Bolland or Shaw has also scored the opening goal in the last three contests. Getting that type of offense from the line thats also shutting down the oppositions top trio? Thats not so bad.
When they score early and they get that assignment, winning that battle youre happy with that type of an exchange, coach Joel Quenneville said. When they score it really helps you in a lot of ways. Its like getting a shorthanded goal.
The checking lines recent success is a culmination of three individual players games clicking at the right time. Bolland usually hits his ready-for-the-playoffs stride around this time of year, and hes doing it again now. Bickell, who struggled through a good part of the season, had a goal and two assists on Sunday for his first multi-point game since Dec. 21. Hes also riding a three-game point streak. And Shaw, who has three goals in his last two games, is bringing the right balance of offense and agitation.
When youre playing good defense, good offensive chances will come, said Shaw, who now has 10 goals in 29 games this season. Were trying to play solid defensively and we know they dont like to play in their own end.
The Blackhawks usually get the great defensive outings from their checking line. Now theyre getting the best of it on both ends of the ice.