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.
Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.
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Five Things to Watch:
1. Grab the first goal.
The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.
2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?
After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.
3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.
With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.
4. The triplets reunited?
In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.
5. Take advantage on special teams.
The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.
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The Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups since 2010, and have eliminated the Minnesota Wild from the playoffs three times from 2013-15.
But it's the Wild that NHL coaches believe will win the Western Conference this season as we approach the trade deadline.
In his annual midseason poll, TSN's Bob McKenzie surveyed 25 of 30 coaches to vote on multiple categories, such as the league's best player and the team most likely to win it all.
According to the survey, 11 coaches predicted the Wild will win the West while the Blackhawks and Sharks tied for second with four votes.
As for winning the Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals are the favorite, earning 10 votes, followed closely by the reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins with eight. The Wild and Blackhawks rounded out the poll with three and two votes, respectively.
Joel Quenneville earned one vote as the NHL's best coach, which is three fewer votes than he had last year, despite this year being arguably his most challenging — and best — coaching job since arriving in Chicago, given the youth on the roster.