Andrew Shaw returned to practice with the Chicago Blackhawks for the first time since he suffered a leg injury in Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild. With the Hawks up 1-0 in their Conference Finals series against the Los Angeles Kings, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Head Coach Joel Quenneville appears to be in no hurry to put Shaw back in the lineup for Game 2.
“We’ll see on that,” Quenneville said. “I thought he was OK today. First time with the group there, hadn’t skated in a while. We’re not sure yet on [Game 2].”
This is what happens when you’re the defending Cup champion and you still look like the best team in the NHL.
Andrew Shaw is a hard working, responsible agitator who drives play on both sides of the puck. In other words, he’s a natural fit in the NHL playoffs. But a team as deep and stacked all around as Chicago can afford to wait until Shaw’s 100% to put him back on the roster.
Given that Chicago and LA don’t play Game 3 until Saturday, it would be very Quenneville-ian to hold off playing Shaw for one more game, then unleash him in LA, when the Hawks will need an energy boost against a Kings team playing its first home game of this rematch of last year’s Conference Final.
That would be a case not only of a coach using a player at his best, but a player’s best being exactly what the defending champs need. And that’s why the Chicago Blackhawks are really good.