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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    Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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    For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.

    Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.

    But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

    Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.

    When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.

    Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.

    The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.

    Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

    Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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    Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

    This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

    In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.

    Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

    Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

    Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

    Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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    Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

    Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

    Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

    Official update on the really important story of the evening:

    Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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    The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

    Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

    As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

    The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

    Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

    Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

    Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.