By Adam Hoge-
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Blackhawks’ locker room has been quieter without Andrew Shaw around, but that means his girlfriend has had to put up with him more.
“My girlfriend is probably upset,” Shaw said Tuesday. “The past two weeks, I probably put her through hell, so she’s excited for me to be back out there as well.”
Shaw practiced with his teammates Tuesday at the United Center for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury on May 2, but his status for Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against the Kings on Wednesday is still uncertain. Chicago leads the series 1-0.
“I feel like I’m ready to play, but that’s not my decision to make,” Shaw said. “I’m getting prepared like I’m going to play tomorrow, but it’s not my final decision.”
Shaw wore a white sweater in practice, which is usually reserved for healthy scratches, and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wouldn’t commit either way on his center’s return.
“We’ll see on that,” Quenneville said. “I thought he was OK today.”
With two days off in between both Games 1 and 2 and Games 2 and 3, Quenneville is taking advantage of the extra time to rest Shaw. Interestingly enough, Quenneville said Shaw may have played last week had there been a Game 7 against the Wild.
“That’s part of the process,” Quenneville said. “It could have been last Thursday, Game 7 against Minnesota. I probably would have had to fight him not to play him. But certainly having time here and doing the right thing and giving him extra time is part of the decision as well.”
That’s the luxury the Blackhawks have, as they’ve continued to win without him. Shaw hasn’t played since he suffered the injury in the first period of Game 1 against the Wild and, including that game, the Blackhawks are 5-2 since.
“You want to be out there helping your team win, and the guys did well,” Shaw said. “We beat out a good Minnesota team, and we came out hard in the first game against the Kings. It sucks to sit back and watch, but I’d rather be 100 percent coming back and be there for the long run.”
It appears Shaw is back to 100 percent, but if he doesn’t play Wednesday, that would give him three extra days before Game 3 in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Either Quenneville is preparing to give Shaw that extra rest, or he’s planning on making a late lineup change Wednesday.
Who comes out?
It’s a nice problem to have, but when Shaw returns, Quenneville is going to have to make a tough lineup decision.
Center Peter Regin has played well in Shaw’s place — well enough to warrant consideration to stay in the lineup. Quenneville could elect to sit fourth-line winger Brandon Bollig instead, but that’s a move he’s usually hesitant to make. Bollig was scratched for Game 2 against the Wild — and missed Games 5 and 6 because of a league suspension — but the winger played in all 82 regular-season games.
Regin has played in the last three games — all wins — and has played well in all three contests.
With Shaw in the white sweater, here’s how the Blackhawks’ top three lines looked in practice Tuesday:
Bryan Bickell — Jonathan Toews — Marian Hossa
Brandon Saad — Michal Handzus — Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp — Peter Regin — Kris Versteeg
Brandon Bollig — Marcus Kruger — Ben Smith
Those were the same lines the Blackhawks used at the end of Game 1, with the only notable move being the promotion of Saad to the second line with Sharp dropping down to the third.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears and Blackhawks for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.