CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 21: Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues is knocked to the ice by Andrew Shaw #65 of the Chicago Blackhakws in front of Ryan Miller #39 in Game Three of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on April 21, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
For the final five games of their series against the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks were without forward Andrew Shaw, who was injured in the first game on a hit by Clayton Stoner.
Going into the Western Conference Final, where they will either face the Anaheim Ducks or the Los Angeles Kings, the Blackhawks will end up getting Shaw back, according to head coach Joel Quenneville. In a radio interview on WGN Radio, the Blackhawks’ coach said that Shaw will get on the ice in the next day or two, with an eye on returning at some point during the upcoming series.
Without Shaw, the Blackhawks have been forced to do some serious lineup shuffling. Bryan Bickell has seen time on the top power play unit as the “netfront presence” guy, and Ben Smith and Kris Versteeg were also given shots as Quenneville tinkered. At even strength, the Blackhawks used a variety of players at the center position, including Marcus Kruger, Peter Regin, Ben Smith, and Joakim Nordstrom.
When Shaw returns to the lineup, the Hawks are going to have to make some tough decisions on who to remove from the rotation. Regin will likely be the odd man out, but he has made some important plays during his two games with the Blackhawks during the postseason, so taking him out removes a key contributor to the team’s last two wins.
In addition to Shaw’s return, Brandon Bollig will also be available to Quenneville in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final as he is eligible to return from his two-game suspension. There’s no guarantee that he will be put back in, but considering that he was a healthy scratch during the playoffs after playing all 82 regular season games, perhaps he isn’t as safe in the lineup under Quenneville’s watch as one may have thought.