Marian Hossa wasn’t quite where he wanted to be last month.
Coming off a back injury that kept him out of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, and physically limited in the remaining three games, the Chicago Blackhawks right wing said his timing just wasn’t at its necessary level through the first few weeks of the season.
Fast forward to now, with Hossa collecting four goals and four assists in his last seven games. So, we’re guessing there aren’t any more timing issues, right?
“No, I’m definitely finding myself in the right spot at the right times,” he said prior to the Blackhawks’ 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night. “You need to play games. With missing the beginning (scrimmages) in training camp and with the short summer and injury, I didn’t get enough of a workout as I wanted to. We’re at game (18) now, and I’m more natural, more myself.”
Hossa is definitely looking like himself these days. After initial concerns of maybe missing early games to ward off potential re-injury, Hossa has thrived with each passing game. His shot is sharp and his skating — as well as his ability to hold or steal the puck — is strong. He and top liners Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp have combined to make a lot of noise in recent games.
“It seems like we’ve found a chemistry, and we hope it continues like that,” he said. “It feels like we know what we’re doing on the ice. All three of us are good skaters who can hold the puck and make plays. Right now those things are working for us.”
“Hoss has progressed since the start of the year,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You notice his play without the puck as well as with it. His backside pressure and pursuit is as good as anyone in the game. He works hard on both sides of the puck.”
That complete game has been evident; even if Hossa’s not scoring he’s helping the Blackhawks keep the puck in the opposing team’s zone, or he’s playing great defense, stealing pucks and helping his fellow defensemen. Blackhawks defensemen appreciate that.
“Everyone knows what a talented goal scorer he is. But defensively, it amazes me how he can come back and help us do so much, how strong he is with the puck,” Nick Leddy said. “He kind of reminds me of (Detroit Red Wings center Pavel) Datsyuk with how good he is coming back. He’s one heck of a player.”
It’s an appropriate comparison, considering that’s one of the players Hossa said helped him improve his defensive game. Hossa, who was all offense and no defense when he first came into the league, watched and tried to emulate some top two-way players, including Datsyuk.
“When I watched (Datsyuk), you try to learn from that. He’s the best in the league to do that,” Hossa said. “I learned a lot from that year (in Detroit).”
Hossa is looking like himself these days. He has to be more mindful of his health now thanks to age and some of those significant injuries. But whatever he’s doing off the ice to stay healthy and sharp, it’s led to great results on it.
“That’s something new I had to learn a little more. Now I’m in that routine and I understand what I need to do,” he said. “Right now I feel more comfortable. I’m pretty happy with how it is.”