Shaw playing aggressive but smart hockey

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Shaw playing aggressive but smart hockey

The championship belt the Blackhawks give to their player of the game sat in Andrew Shaws locker following Sunday nights 4-3 victory over San Jose.

It was another game, another goal, another great outing for the rookie forward, and the belt was as much a symbol for his performance as it was his teammates appreciating his moxie.

Winning the belt was one thing. Wearing it was trickier.

That would be nice, he said, but its too heavy.

Shaws only been with the Blackhawks for seven games but hes been impressive in just about all of them. His goal on Sunday, his fourth in his time here and third in as many games, was the game-winner.

The rookie was the Blackhawks fifth-round draft pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft. He expected to be a sixth-round selection, so moving up a round was a thrill. Shaw brought that energy and excitement into his first summer and fall training camps and it showed.

For his first NHL experience, Shaw has been aggressive and smart, a combination thats won him fans outside and in the locker room.

Hes doing a lot of the little things right. Hes finishing his checks and hes solid on pucks, Duncan Keith said. He goes to the net hard and hes scored three of his four goals just by going to the net and taking the puck to the net.

You first notice Shaws aggressive style but his hockey smarts are also evident. Hes fast and driven but its all with purpose; hes not reckless. And playing with Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger on Sunday night, Shaw looked comfortable. His statistics against San Jose, in his nearly 17 minutes on ice, included a goal, five shots on goal, three hits and a 6-for-6 performance in the faceoff circle.

Ive always played a high-energy game, Shaw said. The pace is a little faster (in the NHL), but I feel comfortable playing that way. Playing with better players, its easier.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Shaw had a special game on Sunday.

Its pretty remarkable; youve got a guy like Shawsy who gives you some offense but his instincts in all aspects are high end, he said. Hes a real resilient kind of guy. He just keeps going. Hes got a quick stick, patience with the puck and good play recognition.

Shaws potential and the Blackhawks roster spaces got him here. Shaws play could very well keep him here, earning more playing time and possibly more belts.

Coming into the NHL, you dont expect four goals in seven games. Its just a bonus, Shaw said. Its given me a lot of satisfaction, a lot of confidence.

Blackhawks will consider breaking up Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane

Blackhawks will consider breaking up Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane

Saturday morning’s potential lineup looked different for a few reasons. First, there were more familiar faces, thanks to players trickling in after their World Cup of Hockey work.

Second, Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane weren’t on the same line. While part of that is because the Blackhawks are still short a few players, it’s also an experiment that could carry over into the regular-season.

Kane was with Nick Schmaltz and Artem Anisimov and Panarin was with Vinnie Hinostroza and Richard Panik and they’ll see how that works starting Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues. Granted, this is only part of the change. The main gist is to give Jonathan Toews, who hasn’t joined the Blackhawks for camp yet, a good playing partner on that top line. Still, it’s a first look coach Joel Quenneville would like to take.

"It’s definitely a thought process and we’re saying ‘Let’s have a look at it in camp," Quenneville said. "And maybe we can have a different look or something to think about, at least, going into the season with Johnny and Kaner being on different lines and having more balance on both lines."

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The Blackhawks struggled with finding the right combinations, outside of that top line, last season. Panarin did play with Toews for a few games but the combination didn’t click as well as the Panarin-Kane one, and that second line of those two and Anisimov was quickly restored. This season the issues facing the Blackhawks’ forward depth are obvious, so it’s worth another look to see, once Toews gets here, if he and Panarin can get something going.

"[It’s] more so about having balance on both lines and having more depth and scoring throughout the lineup," Quenneville said.

BRIEFLY

- Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Brent Seabrook will also play vs. St. Louis.

- Quenneville said Duncan Keith (knee) is progressing well and, "we’re hoping that he can get a [preseason] game in or so."

- Scott Darling is slated to play the entire game against the Blues.

Blackhawks release G Jake Hildebrand from tryout agreement

Blackhawks release G Jake Hildebrand from tryout agreement

The Blackhawks released goaltender Jake Hildebrand from his tryout agreement, the team announced after a 1-0 preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

The 23-year-old netminder signed a one-year contract with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League in June as an undrafted free agent.

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Hildebrand's best season at Michigan State came during his junior year in 2014-15 when he was named the best goaltender and player in the Big Ten after registering a 2.18 goals against average and .930 save percentage, including six shutouts which was tied for second in the nation.

The Blackhawks' active roster now includes 28 forwards, 16 defensemen and five goaltenders.