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Andrew Shaw back at practice, but no word yet on Game 2

The loquacious Andrew Shaw has two goals two assists eight penalty minutes seven playoff games 2014. | Michael Jarecki/For Sun-Times

The loquacious Andrew Shaw has two goals, two assists and eight penalty minutes in seven playoff games in 2014. | Michael Jarecki/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 23, 2014 3:58PM

It had been three weeks since Andrew Shaw last spoke to the media.

“You guys miss me?” he said.

Shaw and his well-known motormouth returned to practice, and it was an opportunity for his teammates to break out their best one-liners.

“We miss making fun of him,” Patrick Sharp said.

“Never a dull moment with Shawzie out there,” ­Corey Crawford said.

Even Shaw himself got in on the act when he was asked who he’s been chirping to in the 18 days since he suffered an apparent leg injury in Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild.

“My girlfriend’s probably upset. The past two weeks, I probably put her through hell,” Shaw said. “She’s excited for me to be back, as well.”

Shaw has been missed, even though the Hawks have won four of six games without him. Despite being the smallest guy on the team at 5-10, he’s the Hawks’ most effective net-front presence, expertly screening goalies and tipping shots (he joked that his now-famous shin pads are excited to be back, too). He’s also third on the team in hits. And when he’s on the ice, he’s the team’s beating heart — the agitator who is capable of a momentum-turning shift.

“It’s nice to have him back, and he’s a big part of our team in a lot of ways — from energy, to scoring goals, to big hits, to getting the team pumped up with the way he plays,” Patrick Kane said. “We’ll welcome him back with open arms when he’s ready to come.”

That might not be Game 2 on Wednesday. Tuesday was Shaw’s first practice after a series of what he deemed “bag skates” with assistant coaches Mike Kitchen and Jamie Kompon on his own to get him back into game shape. He was wearing a white jersey — which usually signifies the “fifth line” of healthy scratches — along with Jeremy Morin and Joakim Nordstrom.

While Shaw said he feels he’s ready to play, the decision belongs to Joel Quenne­ville. And Quenneville was noncommittal, at best.
Game 3 is Saturday in Los Angeles, so the Hawks could opt to give him more rest.

“We’ll see on that,” Quenneville said. “I thought he was OK today. First time with the group there, hadn’t skated in a while. We’re not sure yet on [Game 2].”

Quenneville said that he would have “had to fight him not to play him” had there been a Game 7 against the Wild, but the Game 6 win allowed him to be more cautious. For the dressing room, it’s meant a lot of peace and quiet. For Shaw, it’s been agony.

“Horrible,” he said. “You want to be out there helping your team win. The guys did well. We beat out a good Minnesota team. We came out hard in the first game against the Kings. It sucks to sit back and watch. [But] I’d rather be 100 percent, come back and be there for the long run.”

That’s what the Hawks are counting on, whether he comes back Wednesday or Saturday. Because while he’s not the biggest or the best player, Shaw is clearly one of the most irreplaceable.

“He’s going to be playing with a lot of energy and playing that usual game that he plays,” Jonathan Toews said. “We’ll expect him to be that fearless player, just going into traffic like he normally does. It’ll be good to have him back in the room when he’s ready to go.”


Twitter: @MarkLazerus

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