Blackhawks' Shaw can't wait to get back
Really, the most impressive thing isn't that Andrew Shaw is on the cusp of returning to the lineup after suffering an apparent knee injury way back in Game 1 against Minnesota. It's that the high-energy forward somehow survived these past few weeks of having to sit on the sidelines and watch.
"Horrible," Shaw said of the agony of not being cleared to play. "You want to be out there helping your team win. It (stinks) to sit back and watch."
If you don't believe that, just ask his girlfriend. "These past two weeks I probably put her through a lot," he said. "She's excited for me to be back out there as well."
After what must have seemed an eternity, Shaw finally was back and practicing with his teammates Tuesday, and to a man they all felt quite the boost courtesy of the gritty forward's presence.
"He's bouncing off the walls, he's got tons of energy," captain Jonathan Toews said.
"It was good to see him out there," Patrick Kane said. "He looked pretty good. Seems like he was working hard to get back as quick as possible."
Shaw's imminent return will not only be felt throughout the Blackhawks' lineup but in the locker room as well.
"Sometimes it's been a little bit quiet without him around," Kane admitted.
"We said when he was out of the lineup the first few days, there was peace and quiet and it felt kind of nice for once," Toews joked. "But we're glad to have him back."
Shaw, who greeted the media Tuesday by asking, "Did you miss me?" reported that everything felt fine after his first practice back and that he should be ready to go for Game 2 on Wednesday.
"I feel great," he said. "It's good to be back. It (stinks) being away from the guys. We have such a tight-knit group. It's all smiles to be back out there with them. I feel like it looks good, so I feel pretty good, too."
Despite the optimism, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville wasn't ready to commit to a Wednesday night return date for Shaw.
"We'll see on that," Quenneville said. "I thought he was OK today; first time with the group there and he hadn't skated in awhile.
"We're not sure yet on tomorrow."
Whenever Shaw does return to the lineup, his teammates will be pumped. And they won't be the only ones.
"I think the shin pads are excited to get back out there as well," Shaw said of his now-famous pieces of equipment. "My game is at it's best when I'm around the net.
"I like to live there, get a few lucky ones off me."
Whether or not they get a re-energized Shaw back in the lineup, the Hawks realize they'll be facing a re-energized Kings team when the puck drops for Game 2.
"I think we know that they'll be rested and better prepared to play, so we'll expect a better game out of them, and we have to expect a better game out of ourselves," Toews said.
"They're a resilient team and you've seen throughout the playoffs they play their best, it seems like, when they're down in the series and their backs are up against the wall," Kane said.
The Kings, who won Game 7 over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday and practiced early Saturday before flying into town that night and taking on the Hawks in Game 1 the following afternoon, refused to use their hectic weekend as an excuse for Sunday's 3-1 loss.
"We're a team that handles the schedule really well," L.A. coach Darryl Sutter said Tuesday. "We played really well the other night (in Game 1). I don't think it bothered us. I don't think tomorrow's going to bother us either."
His players are taking Sutter's same calm approach.
"You never want to be down a game, but that's the nature of the beast being in the playoffs," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "The best way to say it is we're even-keeled.
"We're not down or up emotionally, regardless of the situation of the series."