CHICAGO -- Rather than rush Andrew Shaw back from a lower-body injury, the Chicago Blackhawks are taking the conservative approach with the scrappy 22-year old forward.
Shaw will miss his seventh straight game of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Blackhawks play the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS), but he could play in Game 3 on Saturday at Staples Center.
Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 1-0.
"If it was a Game 7, I think we'd be looking at it a lot differently," Shaw said. "But it's Game 2 and the series just started, so with those three extra days of rest it's going to be huge for me."
Shaw, who practiced Tuesday and participated in the morning skate Wednesday, was injured May 2 in the first period of Game 1 of the second round against the Minnesota Wild. After taking a hit along the boards from Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner, he crumpled to the ice before getting up to finish his shift. He favored his right leg heading off the ice and hasn't played since.
"I've never missed this many games in all my years of playing hockey," said Shaw, who has two goals and two assists in seven games this postseason. "It kind of [stinks]."
Shaw bided his down time by watching a lot of hockey and television series at home, but now he's eager to get back to work. When he does, he'll most likely step right back into his roles on the Blackhawks' top checking line and in front of the net on the first power-play unit.
"Hoping for [Game 3]," Shaw said. "I feel good out there. The legs are getting back. I'll just push myself that much harder to get back for Saturday. A few extra days' rest is going to be good in the long run for me. I have to do what's best for the body. I'm young and my career is just starting, so you don't want to mess anything up. These three extra days are going to be huge for recovery."
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said the series schedule helped make the final call for Shaw's availability Wednesday. Combined with four off days this week, sitting out Game 2 gives Shaw nearly a week's worth of on-ice work to get his leg strength and conditioning back.
"We want to make sure that when he plays, we want him more than ready," Quenneville said. "We have three full days [before Game 3] and a couple more practices that will get him up to speed. He wanted to play [Wednesday], but we felt that it was in everybody's best interest to shoot for Saturday."
The extra time also gives forwards on the third and fourth lines, who might be tabbed to sit when Shaw returns, to leave a good impression on Quenneville. Peter Regin took over Shaw's spot after the injury and is the most likely candidate to sit whenever Shaw comes back, but he's played well centering the third line.
Regin doesn't have a point in three games, but has used his speed effectively. He has a plus-1 rating, and the penalty he drew in the second period of Game 5 against Minnesota led directly to a game-tying power-play goal scored by forward Bryan Bickell.
"There's a lot of things I can improve," said Regin, who sat for several weeks as a healthy scratch during the first two rounds. "I wasn't too happy with my last game [Sunday], so there's definitely things that I want to improve [Wednesday]. I think I've been skating pretty good. We obviously bag-skated for a month, so my legs feel good. I just wanted to bring some energy and skate a lot and bring that to the team."
Goaltender Corey Crawford will start for Chicago, which is 7-0 on home ice in the playoffs.
Here are the projected lineups:
Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Tyler Toffoli - Jeff Carter - Tanner Pearson
Kyle Clifford - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Trevor Lewis
Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Jeff Schultz - Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez - Willie Mitchell
Bryan Bickell – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Brandon Saad – Michal Handzus – Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp – Peter Regin – Kris Versteeg
Brandon Bollig – Marcus Kruger – Ben Smith
Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy – Sheldon Brookbank
Scratched: Michal Rozsival, Joakim Nordstrom, Jeremy Morin, David Rundblad, Klas Dahlbeck
Injured: Andrew Shaw (lower body)