When you think of Montreal Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw, scoring is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind.
The Good, the Bad and the Shaw
That isn’t to say it’s anything necessarily negative either, as Shaw does a lot of things right on the ice in spite of his reputation as being a detriment to the Habs. Nevertheless, beside his championship pedigree and willingness to go to dirty areas (and in spite of all his bad penalties) Shaw is surprisingly just two away from 100 goals for his career. He’s also just five points away from 200.
It actually wasn’t always as much of a foregone conclusion as it is now that he was going to get there, at least not this season. Acquired in part due to his one 20-goal season in 2013-14, Shaw’s goal totals have gone down in each since, to the point that he only scored 10 last year. That’s combined with what Shaw’s critics have categorized as a reckless style of play and how he’s arguably more susceptible to injury (having played in fewer games each year since too).
However, as the Canadiens have picked up the scoring pace, so has Shaw since being placed on a line with Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin. After going pointless in his previous nine contests, Shaw is riding a five-game point-scoring streak with just as many goals in that span.
The Domi, Drouin and Shaw Line
Naysayers can place an asterisk beside his recent scoring prowess as a result if they wish, but they should remember a few things if they do. First off, it has always been Shaw’s MO to be able to put up points beside players who are more talented. He was never mistaken as being the guy who drives the play while riding shotgun on lines with Jonathan Toews. He was the guy who provided additional grit and went to the net to score dirty goals, though.
Secondly, neither Drouin nor Domi would have been confused for Toews in his prime, entering this season. Despite Domi establishing himself as a legitimate top-six forward (if not an outright No. 1 center) by placing in the top 10 in league scoring right now, he has scored one more goal (10) in 20 games so far this season than he did in either one of his previous two.
Meanwhile, Drouin is coming off a disappointing 2017-18, during which his point totals dropped off considerably relative to his previous one with the Tampa Bay Lightning. While he’s now on pace to score a career-high 70, it’s thanks to a recent scoring surge that’s coincided with Shaw’s, as Drouin’s on his own five-game streak (three goals, four assists).
The Shaw that Stirs the Drink
That kind of makes Shaw the straw that stirs the drink to a certain extent, at least with regard to Drouin. Granted, Domi has been proving his doubters wrong all season, even before Shaw had been placed on his line. According to Domi, there’s just as little doubt that Shaw fits in, both on the line and in general.
Said Domi in the Montreal Gazette, “He gets to the front of the net. He’ll battle and he’ll tip pucks. He’s got a nose for the net and knows how to score. He’s physical. He can take face-offs. Just a great room guy too. He’s been an awesome teammate…” (from ‘Max Domi is a huge fan of Canadiens linemate Andrew Shaw’, the Montreal Gazette – 11/17/2018).
Sure, the Habs kind of gave Lars Eller, who’s coming off a Stanley Cup-winning season during which he hit a career-high 38 points, and Alex DeBrincat to get Shaw. And, yes, they both have more points than Shaw this season. However, if Shaw keeps scoring as he has, even at a lower clip than either of them, there will still be no doubt about the net-positive impact he’s had. The milestones he’s about to reach will serve as official proof to that effect.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.