The Chicago Blackhawks are desperately in need of a spark to get out of their current funk, but they won’t be getting it in the form of one of their key players returning.
That’s because forward Andrew Shaw, who has missed the team’s last three games because of a lower body injury he sustained on a hit from Minnesota Wild forward Clayton Stoner, will miss his fourth consecutive game on Sunday as the teams battle in Game 5 of the series.
“He’s progressing,” head coach Joel Quenneville told the media on Saturday afternoon. “I think he felt better the last couple of days. It was an encouraging sign.”
Shaw hasn’t been skating since his injury, so it seems unlikely that he will be back with the team within the next few games. The Hawks have been bouncing players around their lineup in an attempt to replace Shaw, but haven’t found much success just yet. Joakim Nordstrom hasn’t looked comfortable in limited time, and Marcus Kruger and Michal Handzus are both too busy killing off the slew of penalties that the Hawks have been committing to be all that effective in even strength situations.
Even with that in mind, the Hawks still do have a good opportunity to win this series even without Shaw, as the shift back to the United Center means that they will at least have the advantage in terms of dictating matchups, so they may be able to afford to load up the top line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews as they try to get their offense churning again.