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Blackhawks Thu Mar 20 2014
There's always that one person at work who is the nicest individual you've ever met, but always makes the most questionable decisions that eventually sends ripples throughout the organization. They're full of vigor, and come quitting time, they're right there to buy the first round for the team with a smile and a quip regardless of the situation.
You know the type -- heck, they probably sit on the other side of the partition of your cube. They always speak too loudly on the phone while trying to communicate some kind of deal with a client, or they're bragging about their Final Four bracket in the common area while you're simply trying to eat the rest of your leftover Potbelly's sandwich from the night before.
Deep down you love this person, only because you know you'll never hang out with them, but in all reality, they might threaten the betterment of your hard work in the office due to questionable practices. This is what Jonathan Toews must think on a nightly basis about Andrew Shaw.
Shaw is no doubt a great teammate and, more than likely, a dude you'd like to hang out with at Red Ivy, if you're into post-Cub game brews with your road dogs. He's a "bro" with the ability to skate and score from time to time, with a penchant for dusting it up and making the occasional bone-headed play that puts his team in peril.
It's because of this that Andrew Shaw, and not Jonathan Toews -- nor Patrick Kane; Corey Crawford; or the imminent arrival of Finnish star, 19-year-old Teuvo Teräväinen -- that the Blackhawks' chances to repeat as Stanley Cup champs hangs in the balance.
Take for example the game on Wednesday, March 12, when the Blackhawks lost 3-2 to the Colorado Avalanche. Shaw unnecessarily interfered with Marc-Andre Cliche nearly halfway through the third period, which came at a point in the game when the Hawks were on the aggressive after cutting the Avs' lead in half earlier in the second period.
Granted, Marcus Kruger's delay-of-game penalty shortly thereafter didn't help matters any, but you could tell Shaw was trying a little too hard in being aggressive against his opponent near the corner while trying to steal possession. It was an "A" for effort, but the shot to Cliche aided in costing the Hawks, at minimum, one point in the standings.
With that said, it seems for every "boneheaded" play Shaw commits, he makes it up by being at the right place at the right time. Wednesday night, the Hawks put it to Ryan Miller and the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues by the final of 4-0.
This was a game the Hawks needed and wanted to win, if only to make a statement against Ken Hitchcock's squad, against which they've compiled an 0-1-2 record against this season. A lot was on the line: Joel Quenneville was looking for his 700th victory; Michal Handzus was playing in his 1,000th game; the Hawks had a chance to leapfrog the Avs in the standings for second in the Central.
Needless to say, this was a big one, and Shaw didn't waste any time with his aggressiveness on a tripping call against at 11 minutes, 39 seconds into the first period. A collective sigh resonated throughout the United Center while thoughts of "Wild Card" danced in the heads of 90 percent of social media pundits.
The Hawks killed the penalty, then, with 55 seconds left in the first period, Duncan Keith fired a slapper off the post, from a Patrick Kane pass, which gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead. Shaw's penalty became an afterthought as the UC faithful danced to "Chelsea Dagger," which never gets old no matter how bad the song is.
Then, just as you were finishing off that costly $15 bag of Garrett's Popcorn, you look up and watch number 65 block the goalie for a tip-in for a 2-0 lead. It's then that you're reminded that you love this rough-edged, hyper-active third grader for everything he brings to the table, including his love for shin pads.
Shaw has 18 goals, 15 assists, and is a plus-13 with a very good 13.7 shooting percentage. He's also second on the team on the team in penalty minutes with 55, just behind Brandon Bollig with 71. Bollig's PIMs mostly are due to fighting; Shaw's are a mix of mixing it up and untimely errors.
Wednesday night the Hawks proved they can keep up with the hype of the Blues and, eventually, overtake the Avs for second in the division, which means home ice if the playoffs started today. With just 12 games left in the regular season, Patrick Kane likely out for two to three weeks due to a lower-body injury suffered from Brendan Morrow/Sheldon Brookbank, a kid called Teuvo getting some playing time, and Quenneville prepping for "Midnight Hawk" for the first Saturday in May, Shaw can ill-afford to cost his team even more penalty minutes with faux aggression.
Shaw proved himself by playing on Toews' line and scoring two goals against the Columbus Blue Jackets back on March 6, in a 6-1 trouncing. That's the Andrew Shaw Quenneville and the Hawks need come April: a guy who might annoy you in the hallway, but one who is there to help get the job done without being a liability to the company.