In case you didn’t believe Joel Quenneville’s earlier claims, it’s official: Marian Hossa will play for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday.
This brings up the age-old dilemma: just because you can play, doesn’t mean you should play.
Pierre McGuire didn’t give a sterling report on the 34-year-old after warming up, saying he “shot the puck fine, passed the puck fine … but doesn’t look very quick.” He mentioned that Hossa seemed to have troubling pushing off, in particular.
(Quenneville labeled Hossa’s issue an upper-body injury after Game 3, for whatever that’s worth.)
He’s replacing marginal winger Jamal Mayers tonight, so perhaps a hobbled Hossa is still an upgrade.
Marian Hossa didn’t skate with his teammates this morning, but Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he expects the talented winger to play tonight in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
“He’s fine,” said Quenneville.
Of course, Hossa wasn’t “fine” enough to play Game 3. And if Quenneville didn’t want to tip his hand prior to that game, well, let’s just wait until tonight to see the actual lineup.
Hossa is tied with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane for the team lead in postseason points, with 15.
The 34-year-old winger also has three power-play goals, something the ‘Hawks haven’t managed to score in their last six games.
If Hossa does play, he’ll likely skate on a line with Sharp and Michal Handzus. This morning, bottom-six winger Jamal Mayers was filling in on that line.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville knew going into the Game 3 warmups that there was a chance Marian Hossa (upper body) would be unable to play and he had decided on Ben Smith as Hossa’s replacement if one was needed, based on a CSN Chicago report.
All the same, Quenneville kept Smith, 24, out the the pregame warmups while 38-year-old forward Jamal Mayers, who was a healthy scratch, took part in them.
Quenneville explained that he was hoping that Hossa would still be able to play and consequently didn’t want to “tip their hand.” However, while several Blackhawks players knew for most of the day that Hossa might not play, Smith ended up having to scramble to get ready.
“He didn’t really have the typical game-day preparation,” Patrick Sharp said. “I don’t know if he had a nap or a decent meal. He just came in, put his skates on and jumped into the Stanley Cup Final.
“For a guy who works as hard as Benny does, to be rewarded like that, and I thought he played great. He got a good scoring chance in the second period and put pucks in great areas. That’s something he’ll always remember. It gave us a big lift to see him roll in here and put his gear on last night.”
Smith added after the game, “They tell us to stay ready and you never know when your opportunity is going to come.”
He’s certainly not going complain about the short notice. He ended up with 10:23 minutes of ice time and a minus-one rating in his 28th NHL game, including playoff contests.
Quenneville says Hossa is ‘likely’ to play Game 4