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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    Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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    For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

    They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

    • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
    • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
    • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

    Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

    Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

    Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

    Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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    The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

    (Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

    Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

    You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

    It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

    Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

    Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

    Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

    Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
    AP
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    If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

    You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

    The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

    For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

    (Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

    The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

    Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

    Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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    It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

    The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

    The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

    One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.