Chicago Blackhawks: Andrew Shaw Returns for Game 3 vs. L.A. Kings...Who's Out?

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IMay 24, 2014

Andrew Shaw looks to be skating in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against Los Angeles. Who takes a seat for the 'Hawks?
Andrew Shaw looks to be skating in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against Los Angeles. Who takes a seat for the 'Hawks?Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

The Chicago Blackhawks hope to exact a measure of payback in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals with the Los Angeles Kings.

Chicago will battle at the Staples Center with Andrew Shaw back in the lineup after losing home ice in embarrassing fashion in Game 2.

Shaw has missed the last seven games after a Clayton Stoner hit knocked him out of the opening game against Minnesota on May 2, but skated with the third line in practice on Friday, according to ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers.

The question of who takes a seat in Game 3 becomes an important one with Shaw's return as the Blackhawks attempt to regain home ice advantage and go up a game in the series.


Which player heads upstairs to watch Saturday's action?

Shaw is going to be a welcome sight no matter where he skates, but I would love to see him on the second line in place of Michal Handzus. At this point in the series, Chicago needs a player with the speed to keep up with whomever coach Joel Quenneville throws together on that line.

While he's not a top-six center by any means, Shaw brings energy and could shake that line out of a funk. If Quenneville opts not to use Ben Smith in that role, at least Shaw can get up and down the ice.

Handzus likely won't be out of the lineup, and that's fine. However, the player that was on the outside of the lineup looking in is not the guy who should be taking a seat.

Peter Regin entered the lineup May 11 against the Wild and has been a solid addition. He brings something to the Blackhawks that's not provided by Brandon Bollig—puck skills.

Chicago will be sitting one of three players with Shaw coming back, and either Regin, Bollig or Kris Versteeg will be in a suit come Saturday night.

Versteeg hasn't exactly lit up the lamp in the playoffs, but he needs to be in the lineup somewhere in this series. The same goes for Regin.

I've defended Bollig's spot on this team on many an occasion. However, there are better options than the hard-hitting forward at this stage of the season. Regin and Jeremy Morin are two names that immediately come to mind.

The chances of Quenneville inserting Morin into the fray are slim to none. But Regin, who has been providing steady double-digit minutes for Chicago for the last four games, deserves to stay on the ice.

Fans of the Bollig, Smith and Marcus Kruger line can deal with a fourth line with Regin or Handzus. That line would still see steady work in Game 3—as opposed to the limited minutes Quenneville seems to have reserved for Bollig.

Which role player Quenneville decides to leave out of the mix upon Shaw's return still requires the bottom two lines to contribute in the next two games out West.

Hopefully the Blackhawks get a boost from the returning Shaw and steady play from the lower half of the lineup.