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Andrew Shaw, Jimmy Hayes look to stay

Impressive Hawks rookie forward Andrew Shaw has no problem ­crashing opposing nets fighting for space. | Carlos Osorio~AP

Impressive Hawks rookie forward Andrew Shaw has no problem ­crashing opposing nets and fighting for space. | Carlos Osorio~AP

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Updated: February 23, 2012 8:24AM



NASHVILLE, Tenn. — At some point, the highlights will run out for Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes.

The rookies will be held off the scoresheet for a few games, and the attention they’re generating will dissipate. Twitter will forget the hot trend of #ShawFacts, and there will be fewer comparisons between Hayes and former Hawks big man Dustin Byfuglien.

The Blackhawks want to see how they play during those stretches and how fast they become contributors again. It will help determine if they’re consistent threats or just spontaneous boosts. It will determine if they stick with the Hawks for the stretch run.

“Every kid is different, and everybody wants to make it,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You have to do whatever it takes to get here. The next challenge is being consistent and sustaining it. So far, they’ve been good in that regard.”

One thing that bodes well for Hayes and Shaw, despite their dissimilar sizes, is that they have no problems crashing opposing nets and fighting for space. The Hawks were lacking consistent net presences before they arrived. They’ve scored most of their goals in close on goalies.

“Those guys have been good in that area,” Quenneville said. “Around the net, you like their play recognition, their protection of the puck, how they free up their stick and their finish, as well. They’re doing a lot of good things in that area, and they’re comfortable going there, which is nice.”

The Hawks, in some ways, are expecting their play to dip at some point as the league catches on to them. Some opponents seem to have taken notice, targeting both for checks and making sure to engage them.

Hayes and Shaw say they’re not letting their success affect their approaches. They’ve been praised many times by their veteran teammates, who also have words of caution, whether through jokes or brief conversations.

“They say just don’t let your head get too big . . . you’re still a rookie,” Shaw said. “You just have to keep working and doing what you’re doing, and things will be fine. They just want you to stay level-headed.”



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