Added weight should help Andrew Shaw deliver more poundings in Act II with Blackhawks
Andrew Shaw and Jonathan Toews have a way of getting under each other's skin.
They've jawed at each other countless times while working on faceoffs at practice. "Cheater!"
They didn't hold back last season when Montreal was in town, engaging in a shoving match near the Blackhawks' bench in the first period.
Then they exchanged pleasantries Sunday, twice shoving each other around during the second period of an intrasquad scrimmage at the United Center.
"We always go at it," Shaw quipped. "We went at it in the room after. … (Right from the) first camp that's when it started off, and I'm sure it'll continue until we're both done playing hockey."
Yes, Andrew Shaw is definitely back.
He may have a wife and a toddler -- with another baby on the way -- now, but this version of Shaw isn't all that different from the one who was traded to the Canadiens in 2016.
Well, that's not entirely true.
While he still plans on playing with the hellbent style that made him a near overnight success and instant fan favorite almost eight years ago, the 5-foot-11-inch Shaw is about 15 pounds heavier now. That added weight -- mostly muscle, but perhaps with "a couple beers in there, too" -- allows the veteran to attack opponents more efficiently.
"I'm more solid out there," said the 182-pound Shaw, whose contract carries a $3.9 million cap hit and runs through 2021-22. "I'm still physical. I'm just not maybe as reckless. And with being heavier I can go into an area and don't have to throw my entire body to kill somebody. It's more I have strength and weight behind me."
After a disappointing 2017-18 campaign in which he managed just 10 goals and 10 assists, Shaw posted a career-high 47 points and scored 19 goals for Montreal last season. Some of that production can be traced to the fact that he saw significant time on the Canadiens' top line with Jonathan Drouin and Max Domi.
And now he's definitely a candidate to play with Toews, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad and/or Dylan Strome in a top-six forward role.
"Sure," said coach Jeremy Colliton. "But that's part of what we're trying to build. Whether he's top six or on the fourth line, he's still going to contribute. We want to have that personality to our lineup. We've got a bunch of guys that can move up and down."
The key for Shaw will be staying healthy.
The 28-year-old missed an average of 20 games a season with Montreal as he dealt with multiple concussions and an issue with his left knee.
Another concussion could spell trouble, but Shaw said the rehab helped him strengthen the knee.
"It just helped my stride," he said. "I feel like I'm a better skater since."
When the Hawks were swept by Nashville in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, some pointed to the fact that they weren't "playoff ready." Sure, they were the No. 1 seed in the West, but players like Shaw were nowhere to be found.
That theme continued over the last two seasons, both of which ended without playoff berths.
With Shaw back in the fold and the addition of the tough, rugged Drake Caggiula last December, it should be much tougher to push Colliton's team around during the 2019-20 campaign. They also figure to score more of those dirty goals around the net.
And behind the scenes, it figures to get a lot louder -- and a lot more interesting -- in the locker room.
"Oh yeah," Shaw said when asked if he's already started chirping some of his new mates. "I like (Calvin) de Haan right now. I've kind of been all over him a little bit. Stromer (Dylan Strome) as well. Good, fun guys.
"It's going to be a good year. I think we're going to have a lot of success as well."