Unsung Hero: Andrew Shaw’s emotional roller coaster

CHICAGO -- Andrew Shaw is an emotional person.

He's also a young player still finding his way in the NHL.

That combination can hurt a team at times, and that's what was happening during the Western Conference semifinal when the Chicago Blackhawks' forward was spending more time in the penalty box than on the ice.

The Detroit Red Wings did a good job frustrating both Shaw and the Blackhawks through the opening four games of the series. Detroit built up a 3-1 series lead and Chicago's season that started with much promise was looking like it would fizzle out.

"I thought in those three games we got frustrated by how they played," said Michal Handzus during Stanley Cup Media Day on Tuesday. "They frustrated us and we showed that. Our body language showed that. We got away from our game. We were more looking to be angry and give it to them back than play our game.

After 14 penalty minutes in Game 2, including a spearing major late in the third period, Shaw settled down, but not after being pulled aside one day by veteran Michal Handzus, who passed along some wisdom.

"Shawsie's an emotional guy," said Handzus. "He uses emotion to play the game and if he uses it right he's a great player. I thought he wasn't using it to his advantage, so I just told him if he use it to his advantage he'll play better and we'll play better as a team. I thought he did great after."

"[Handzus told me] you've got to use that hatred and that momentum and that anger in the right way," said Shaw. "You can't go out there and take stupid penalties. It's controlling it and taking pucks to the net or finishing clean checks. He actually helped me a lot and I think it's going to help me sustain a longer career."

It worked, and Shaw smartened up, especially knowing how the high the stakes are this time of year. As a 21-year old kid in his second NHL season, he still has much to learn about the game, but the Handzus conversation stuck with him.

"I've had guys talk to me [in the past], but the way he did it, he brought me into the room, sat me down and talk to me about it. He knew I was frustrated and he helped me overcome that to better myself."

A year ago, Shaw attended the Stanley Cup party of Los Angeles Kings forward Brad Richardson. He watched as his buddy from Belleville, Ont. celebrated with friends and family.

He later saw the Cup ring on Richardson's finger. That'll inspire anyone to be better.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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