Cold. Leathery. With a fair amount of sweat.
If anyone knows what hockey glove tastes like, it's Andrew Shaw. One of the lasting images of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final will be the Blackhawks forward absorbing a fist to the face in front of the Boston net—more than once.
It led to a sore nose in Game 5 on Saturday. Not to worry, though, Shaw said it's fine.
So are the Hawks, who head into Monday's Game 6 in Boston with a 3-2 series lead. If they wind up hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup for the second time in four years, the usual suspects will have played their part. Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp have upped the offense. Corey Crawford—despite the five-goal glitch in Game 4—has been solid. Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith have found ways to contribute, even if not statistically.
But you usually need players such as Shaw to get this deep in the postseason. You certainly seem to in Chicago, which has long embraced pests such as A.J. Pierzynski, Dennis Rodman and Joakim Noah.
One word often used to describe Shaw is "irritating."
"I take it as a compliment," the 21-year-old native of Belleville, Ontario, said. "It's how my game has developed through my career. It's what's got me here. I got to stick to it, just compete and work to the best of my abilities."
With his hard-nosed (sorry, couldn't resist) skill set, Shaw is capable of many things that help a team win. Or simply draw headlines.
He'll frustrate opponents
"We know he's an agitator," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We know he's good at embellishing, too, at times. We know all that stuff. We've done our research."
He'll energize his teammates, sometimes to the point that even they want to punch him
"Yeah, I sit next to him [in the locker room]," Kane said. "There's times where I almost got to tell him to shut up because he just asks questions and doesn't stop talking when you're next to him there in between periods. He's really excited to be here."
He'll drop an F-bomb on national TV
"[Bleepin'], it was unbelievable; all the guys deserve this," Shaw said after the Hawks' victory in Game 1.
He'll render opponents speechless. Like when he said his height (5-foot-10, shortest on the Hawks) would be an advantage against 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara because the Boston defenseman wouldn't be able to see him in front of the net
"I don't know how to really answer that. Next question, I guess," Chara said, smiling, before the series began.
On top of all that, he'll score a huge goal occasionally. Hawks fans don't want to think about where the series might be if Shaw and his shin pads had not been in the right place at the right time to win Game 1 in triple overtime.
"I mean, I think you could ask players on other teams and they'll tell you that he's not the type of guy that they like to play against," Toews said. "But that's what we love about him.
"We love having a guy like that on our team. He's not afraid. You saw him going up against Chara [in Game 1]. Probably the guy on our team that got up against him the most, hit him. Stirred him up a little bit, drew a penalty, scored a huge goal, unbelievable goal, for anybody to score just going to the net."
In a series that has produced as many twists and turns as this one, it could take a while to catch your breath, even after it's over. Shaw summed up that feeling following his now-infamous "slip of the tongue" during the NBC interview, which has since gone viral.
"I couldn't think at all actually, could barely breathe," he said. "I think I made up a word in there, too, actually. I was never good in English. Just shows how much heart our team has. We push each other to our limits."
The best way to wash down the taste of glove? With a sip from the Stanley Cup.
Chris Sosa is RedEye's sports editor. @redeyesportschi
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