Following Friday’s 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils Marian Hossa joked that he hasn’t been this hot since his junior days with the Portland Winterhawks.
Hossa now has seven goals and an assist in four games and Chicago has picked up points in all four.
“Seems like things are going in for me so I try to put the puck at the net,” said Hossa. “I try to use my speed right now and obviously when got more confidence, more things can happen offensively.”
Prior to his current stretch, Hossa had just two goals in 15 games.
“On fire,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Hossa. “He’s got it going. He’s got that touch.”
Hossa along with linemates Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad have combined for nine goals and eight assists in the four games
“I think right now Johnny, me and (Saad) we’re having lots of chances so we just continue to put the puck at the net,” said Hossa. “We try to do more things obviously when you have more confidence the puck is with you and you try to do a little more.
“At the same time, you try to keep things simple and put the puck at the net.”
The Blackhawks remain four points back of St. Louis for second spot in the Central Division. The Blues also have a game in hand.
Quenneville is keeping his expectations realistic with 26 games remaining.
“We always think we’d love to be in first place in our division, a lot comes with that, but at the same time, we’ve got to shoot for reality, and that’d be St. Louis,” he said. “And we’ve got work to do.”
It looks like the Chicago Blackhawks will be without the services of forward Kris Versteeg for longer than initially expected.
Versteeg was originally expected to miss four weeks with a left hand injury suffered during the Winter Classic.
“It’s probably going to be a little bit more than that,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville per the Chicago Tribune.
Versteeg underwent surgery on his hand and has missed nine games.
The 28-year-old had nine goals and 27 points in 34 games prior to the injury.
Bryan Bickell scored twice and Corey Crawford made 41 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks doubled up the Minnesota Wild 4-2 Thursday night.
Chicago has now won two of three while the Wild have lost three straight.
“He was great. It was a goalie win,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville post-game. “They were the better team tonight, for sure. We dodged a bullet.”
Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane had the other Chicago goals.
Jason Zucker and Jason Pominville had the goals for the Wild while Niklas Backstrom made 16 saves.
“We want to put as much negative behind us as we can,” said Pominville. “Tonight was a big step in the right direction.”
The loss came just a day after Wild head coach Mike Yeo had a meltdown during the team’s practice.
Yeo was particularly impressed by the play of Jordan Schroeder, who was recalled by the Wild on Thursday.
The 24-year-old had seven shots on goal while playing 9:49 in the loss.
“He showed me something tonight,” said Yeo. “I actually liked his game earlier in the year. I was very impressed with his game tonight. I thought his speed was noticeable.”
With Brad Richards set to return after missing three games due to an upper body injury, Patrick Sharp is expected to be moved out of the Blackhawks’ top six forward group.
Richards skated on a line with Kris Versteeg and Patrick Kane Sunday while Sharp was on the left side with Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith.
“(Richards) coming back, that line was very effective for a stretch when we were winning games [on the circus trip],” Joel Quenneville told the Chicago Sun-Times. “(Jonathan Toews’) line is going fine. I think that line, they get quality ice time and get some big assignments as well.”
Richards has six goals and 18 points in 33 games this season.
“Luxury of the depth this organization has and helps a lot for this time of year,” said Richards. “Being healthy too you know you can get your extra day or two to make sure things are fine tuned.”
Richards has not played since the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss in Columbus on Dec. 20.
Antti Raanta finally got a start in the Chicago Blackhawks net Sunday night – his first since Dec. 5.
The 25-year-old made 23 saves in Chicago’s 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames.
However, he’s struggled to find playing time due to the solid play of Scott Darling, who is 5-2-0 with a 1.97 G.A.A. and a .937 save percentage in seven games this season.
“I don’t want to give my job away,” Raanta told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I know I can play at a good level in this league.”
Raanta is now 4-2-0 with a 1.85 G.A.A. and a .944 save percentage in six appearances.
“It’s even harder when you play good games and get a couple of wins, then you have to sit and wait,” Raanta said. “Sometimes it just goes like that.”
As Mark Lazerus points out in his piece, coach Joel Quenneville continues to call it a “good problem,” as the two goaltenders battle it out in the absence of Corey Crawford.
But once the No. 1 returns, a tough decision will have to be made.
“There are some of those days when you’re a little bit down, and you just think, ‘What should I do better?’” Raanta said. “You can’t start doing that in the locker room. You can’t be there and like just be [whining] because it’s not helping anybody. I just try to be as good a teammate as I can and just try to give all that I’ve got to Scotty. He’s doing great, so it’s hard some days. But that’s just hockey.”