CHICAGO | If the big, bad Boston Bruins are expecting to use their size, muscle and sinew to roll over the Blackhawks, Brian Bickell and Andrew Shaw said just bring it on, we’re waiting.
The NHL playoffs only get more bruising as they proceed, with the ultimate body-crashing-body saved for the Stanley Cup Finals. Bickell and Shaw, who formed 2/3 of a very productive third line most of this season, are relishing the moment.
“The playoffs are more physical. I think the more physical I am, it gets me more in games,” said the 6-foot-4, 233-pound Bickell, the Hawks’ surprise playoff scoring leader with eight goals.
Shaw doesn’t have Bickell’s size as the team’s 5-foot-10, 180-pound bantam-rooster pugilist. But what he yields in pounds, he makes up with spirit and attitude.
“You try to make friends with them (referees) before the game — send flowers to their room or something,” said Shaw.
Both Bickell and Shaw know they must display controlled aggression to avoid taking ill-timed penalties.
“Just keep my feet moving,” Bickell said. “Finish the checks when they’re there. When I feel I do that, it gets me, the teams and the fans into it. It lifts me up to where I need to be.
“Control yourself and know where players are and the situations they’re in. Just play hard.”
Shaw knows his way to the penalty box and even the suspended list, having collided with Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith near the net in last year’s quarterfinals.
“You got walk that fine line,” he said. “Keep the hands down going into a hit. Clean, hard play. Obviously, the playoffs is a different story with the physicality. They kind of let it go. That’s more old-time hockey. That’s what we all grew watching and all grew up to love.”
Shaw knows to “get low” and “be strong on your skates” in dealing with bigger players. Bickell probably will have to use a similar technique on someone even his strapping self cannot match in size — the 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara.
“He’s strong, he’s big, for us we need to use our speed against him,” he said. “He covers that ice. Hopefully we can just slow him down and wear him down.”