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updated: 6/13/2013 5:24 PM

What's not to love about pugnacious Shaw?

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  • The Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw deflects the puck past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask for the game-winner in the third overtime of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at the United Center.

      The Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw deflects the puck past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask for the game-winner in the third overtime of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at the United Center.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • The Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw mixes it up with Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara in the first period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at the United Center.

      The Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw mixes it up with Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara in the first period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at the United Center.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

One day this week, Andrew Shaw provided a scouting report on himself.

"I'm not a skill guy making great passes and scoring goals," the Blackhawks' winger said. "I work hard."

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The next night Shaw worked hard enough to make a great pass to set up a key goal in the third regulation period and to score the game-winner in the third overtime period.

The performance gave the Hawks a victory over the Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, with Game 2 scheduled again for the United Center on Saturday night. As unpredictable as this series appears to be, one certainty is that Shaw will show up because it's what he does.

So how did Shaw manage to deflect the puck into the net to end the marathon sometime around midnight?

"Luck," he said.

Maybe, but the goal also was a function of Shaw energizing himself into the right place at the right time, something that has become a habit of his.

The talent of Hawks stars like Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp are easy to admire. So should be the way Shaw does the dirty duty, including punishing the bodies of opponents while sacrificing his own.

Shaw is the pesky batter who sticks out his elbow to be hit by a pitch. He's the 6-foot backup guard who takes a charge from a 7-foot power forward. He's the fullback whose lead block and bloody nose go unnoticed while a diva tailback spikes the ball in the end zone.

Come to think of it, most of all Shaw is like that mayhem maker in the insurance commercials.

Andrew Shaw is the whatever-it-takes guy every NHL team needs to advance into the Stanley Cup Final. Boston's is Brad Marchand, whom Shaw professes to want to grow up to become.

Not that Shaw is all that far away. As he said, "I think I've made a name for myself the past two years. I'm known as a physical player."

Calling Shaw physical is like calling Charlize Theron cute. He can be as bonecrushing as she is heartstopping.

Shaw describes his style with a long list of clichés: "Leave everything out there" ... "Battle for your teammates" ... "Character and heart do pay off" ... "Blue collar" ... "Grinder" ...

In Shaw's case, they aren't so much clichés as words to live by every time he skates onto the ice.

"I think it's in my personality," Shaw said. "I like to joke around and bug people."

Players like Shaw and Marchand are referred to as agitators, irritants and pests. What they do to opponents -- apply a little shove here and a big whack there -- is an art form and maybe even a hockey skill.

The 5-10, 180-pound Shaw said of his strategy for a potential nuclear altercation with Boston's 6-9, 255-pound defenseman Zdeno Chara, "Just try to go low on him. I fought a guy in juniors who was 6-8, 250. Actually, I won. Surprising. It was my rookie year in juniors and I had to do something to impress the coach."

Shaw has been impressing ever since. Any coach has to love his combative nature, his inclination to charge the net, his willingness to stand his ground in front of opposing goalies.

If the Hawks beat the Bruins to the Stanley Cup, Shaw's name will be etched onto the trophy next to not only Toews, Hossa and Sharp, but also Gretzky, Hull and Howe.

"Look at the great players in history, their names are on the Cup," Shaw said. "It would be an honor to join them."

It also should be their honor to have Andrew Shaw join them.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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