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Andrew Shaw’s return an X-factor for Game 6

Andrew Shaw celebrates after scoring a goal against St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott during Game 4. (AP Photo)

Before his ill-timed penalty and inexcusable outburst that cut short the Blackhawks’ third-period push in Game 4 and earned him a suspension for Game 5, Andrew Shaw had been one of the most effective players in the first-round series against St. Louis.

Shaw had two goals and two assists in the first four games by doing what he does better than just about anyone else on the Hawks — forecheck in the corners, win board battles, and crash the net.

“To be honest, he’s been one of their better forwards all series,” Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “What he brings in playoff time especially is that grit. He’s not afraid to go to the net and work for his second chances. Obviously, he’s someone who can get under your skin, but people don’t realize how good of a player he is. He’s quick in the corners, he’s hard to pin and stop, and he’s someone who’s obviously a big energy guy for them.”

And he’ll be back for Game 6 on Saturday, surely looking to make up for lost time.

“Shawzie brings an incredible amount of competitiveness and will, and we’ve talked about the intangibles he brings to the lineup,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’s got a lot of know-how of where to be successful, how to score in our league. He’s tenacious around the net, tough in puck areas, he’s got quick sticks and quick hands and some finish to him offensively. Certainly, he’s one of those guys, as a teammate, you appreciate. And I think the fans like to see him out there, as well.”

Where Shaw fits in the lineup remains to be seen. Dale Weise had some good moments in limited action in Game 5 (he played 9:35, a team-low among forwards in the double-overtime win), so Brandon Mashinter likely will come out of the lineup. Shaw started the series on the fourth line, then moved up to the top line for Game 4, where he posted a goal and two assists.

But the new-look top line of Richard Panik, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane could be here to stay, and the third line of Andrew Ladd, Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa managed to shut down Vladimir Tarasenko. So Shaw likely will find himself with new linemates in Game 6.

Panik attack

Panik was noticeable all game on Thursday. HIs seven shot attempts (including two golden chances on which he missed the net) were second only to Marian Hossa’s 10. Panik also added six hits while getting the coveted chance to play with Toews and Kane. It’s quite a step up for a guy who couldn’t crack the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs roster all season before being traded for Jeremy Morin.

“Obviously, they’re really good players,” Panik said. “You don’t want to think too much about it, that you’re playing with those guys. My main goal was to play my game, play simple, and I think [Thursday] night worked out pretty good.”

Easy Weezy

Weise expected to play a much larger role after being acquired from Montreal at the trade deadline, and hasn’t hid his frustration. But after being a healthy scratch for Games 1, 2, and 4, he was glad simply to be in uniform for Game 5.

“I’m just happy to be a part of it right now,” he said. “I’m not really too concerned with how many minutes I’m playing, or how many minutes I’m not playing. We’ve got a good group. You’ve got 14 forwards that are capable of playing up and down the lineup. … I’m a very confident guy, and I’m very confident in my abilities. So when I get the opportunities, I know I can make the most of them.”


Twitter: @marklazerus