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Blackhawks' Shaw closer, but won't play in Game 6

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Make it five straight games for the Chicago Blackhawks without scrappy, versatile forward Andrew Shaw.

Though he's showing progress with a lower-body injury that occurred in Game 1 of a Western Conference Second Round series against the Minnesota Wild, Shaw will miss Game 6 on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDS2).

It will be the third straight trip to St. Paul he won't make, after sitting out Game 3 and Game 4 this past week. Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 after grinding out a 2-1 victory Sunday in Game 5 at United Center.

Shaw is supposed to start skating again in the next day or two.

"He's progressing, but he's not on the trip," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Monday.

Shaw's playing status has gone 360 degrees in the series. The Blackhawks labeled the scrappy forward "day-to-day" because of the undisclosed injury, which occurred during a hit in Game 1 by Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner.

That assessment was revised prior to Chicago's first trip to Minnesota for Game 3, but Quenneville didn't sound optimistic about his return in the series during the two-day break prior to Game 4.

Now, things are starting to trend upward again for Shaw.

"We said 'day-to-day' at the beginning of the series, but now he's getting closer to 'day-to-day,'" Quenneville said, drawing laughs. "I don't think there are too many Shaws around the League, so he's a unique player. We like him."

One thing that's not in doubt is how much the Blackhawks have missed without Shaw in the lineup. Despite his 5-foor-10, 180-pound size, Shaw is one of the grittiest players on the team. He's not afraid to pay the physical toll that comes with playing around the net offensively, both at even strength and for the top power-play unit.

Without him, Quenneville has put the onus on 6-foot-4, 233-pound forward Bryan Bickell to fight his way through heavy traffic in front of Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and park his body there to provide a big screen and scrap for rebounds.

The plan worked on Chicago's first goal Sunday. Bickell, playing Shaw's spot on the top power-play unit, became a statue in front of Bryzgalov and had a puck shot by right wing Patrick Kane hit the shaft of his stick and bounce into the net to tie the game 1-1.

"I haven't really had a lot of looks this year on the power play," Bickell said Monday prior to boarding the Blackhawks' charter flight bound for Minnesota. "[Shaw's] been there all year and does a great job for a little guy. For me to step up and help the power play with screens or tips, it's huge to get our special teams going."

Aside from stepping up, Bickell is helping Shaw calm down about missing so many consecutive games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Bickell knows what it's like to sit out with injuries after being sidelined by a couple this season. He also knows what it's like to play through the pain of an injury in the postseason.

After tearing the MCL in his right knee during the final game of the Western Conference Final last year, Bickell played all six games of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins. He even scored a huge goal late in regulation of Game 6 that set up former Blackhawks forward David Bolland's dramatic, Cup-clinching goal 17 seconds later.

"[Shaw] texted me a couple of times and asked, 'How did you do it?' from last year," Bickell said. "This year when I got hurt [in the regular season] it was a similar situation. It's just a battle. It's a lot mental. There's going to be a time soon enough that he's going to be back on the ice and willing to get back in the lineup. I've been down that road. It's a tough bounce, but he's truly missed."

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