Marian Hossa trying to solve scoring woes

Hossa.jpgThe Chicago Blackhawks finished off a promising season last year with
a disappointing loss in the Conference finals to the Detroit Red Wings.
After the loss, for a team that was as talented and as deep as the
Hawks were, it was just a matter of making a few tweaks in order to
hopefully finally make it to the Stanley Cup finals.

Supposedly
one move was to hand over the full time starting job to Cristobal Huet.
That one didn’t work out so well.

The other was to sign recent
journeyman Marian Hossa to a big contract, a move that would no doubt
put an already deep offensive team over the hump. He appeared in just 57
games last season, but scored an admirable 24 goals and was generally
the player the Blackhawks hoped they had signed.

But he wasn’t
signed to put up numbers in the regular season; his acquisition was
about being a difference maker in the playoffs.

It’s a good thing
Dustin Byguglien has stepped up, because Hossa has largely been
completely absent on the scoreboard, with just two goals in 14 games.
From Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times
:

”It’s definitely bugging me when the puck’s not going in,” he said,
”because I like to do better scoring goals, and things aren’t going my
way right now. It is in my head. But I try not to put too much pressure
on myself because it’s not going to do any good, right?”

”Sometimes it’s a little thing,” he said. ”Just a little break
when the puck goes off your shin pad or something like that, and all of a
sudden you score another one and things are going your way.”

Here’s a tip: everytime you have a chance to take a shot, try
something other than putting the puck right into the logo in the middle
of the goaltender’s chest.

Despite his lack of production, Hossa has been praised — especially
for the past two games — for his overall game. His forechecking,
defensive reliablity and ability to kill penalties have been a valuable
asset for the Hawks.

Of course, when you’re paying nearly $8 million a season for a
shooter, you’re hoping for a bit more than “hard work and great
forechecking”.

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    Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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    It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

    Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

    Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
    Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

    This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

    The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

    This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

    And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

    Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

    The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

    Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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    John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

    Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

    First, take a look at the hit:

    Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

    Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

    Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

    It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

    Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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    Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

    For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

    The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.

    Leafs’ Nylander puts on show with breakaway goal, assist on Matthews’ 33rd

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    This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

    On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

    William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

    Hnnngmgghh indeed.

    That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

    Update: OK, so Nylander’s really stealing the show. This is stupendous.