Bringing intensity or losing your cool: in hockey, there’s a very fine line separating the two. The physical, abrasive players have to find ways to teeter on the right side of it every game they have.
Andrew Shaw has wandered over to the wrong side too often lately. And as the Chicago Blackhawks look to even up their Western Conference semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings, Shaw knows he needs to keep his emotions, and swings, under control.
After recording just two penalty minutes in the Blackhawks’ first-round series against Minnesota, Shaw has taken 18 against Detroit, including 14 in an emotionally charged 3-1 loss to the Wings on Monday night. Shaw knows that can’t happen again.
“I’ve gotta keep going to the net and keep my hands down, also,” he said following Wednesday’s practice. “It’s a physical battle in front of the net and I can’t take stupid penalties. I have to move forward and move past the last game. We have to stay disciplined.”
Emotions were running high in Game 3, especially at the end. It was a frustrating end for the Blackhawks and Shaw, who was also whistled for being in the crease on what would’ve been, at the time, the game-tying goal. That call was definitely a bad one. But the frustration penalties were the main concern.
“Shaw plays with energy, he goes into the hard areas and brings that passion to the game we like. But he has to know there’s a line that you make sure you travel and don’t cross it,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He pushes the envelope. He’s not a big guy, so he has to find ways to keep pushing. At this time of the year he’ll do everything he can to try and make it work.”
Shaw said that Quenneville has talked to him about the discipline. Obviously, the main concern is giving the Wings too many power plays. Sure, the Blackhawks’ penalty kill is a stellar 29 for 29 this postseason, but no point in trying to play with fire there. But there’s another reason to stay smart.
“It kills us, too, killing momentum if we have it going our way,” he said. “They’ve talked to me about it. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and stay on the right side of the line. It’s more going to the net, keep your hands down, try not to touch the goalie at all. If I can do that, I can stay out of the box.”
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The Blackhawks’ third line was a source of great energy and the right amount of venom all season. Shaw, and even Bryan Bickell in the waning moments last game, let frustration get the best of them in Game 3. They have to quell that come Game 4.
“We were frustrated last game,” Bickell said. “The calls were going their way. Bu we have to keep positive going into tomorrow. We have to keep our sticks down and play hard. If we play our game, we’ll come out on top.”