Hossa returns to Chicago, happy to be cleared


Hossa returns to Chicago, happy to be cleared

Marian Hossa heard those wonderful little words, youre cleared, from the Blackhawks medial staff back in mid-November. It had been a lengthy road for the right wing, who worked back from a concussion he suffered in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.

Yes, Hossa is ready to play whenever the NHL is. And if the lockout culminates in another lost season, Hossa may look at overseas options.

It definitely feels good to be cleared, said Hossa, who was skating in Chicago on Monday after spending the last few weeks skating in Florida. Basically after all the testing Ive done I feel really comfortable with myself. Right now, Im skating with the guys, Im feeling good, and when the season starts, Ill be ready.

When the season starts is, of course, the uncertain point. Monday was Day 93 of the lockout, with both the league and NHLPA looking at their legal options. As of now, there are no talks scheduled between the two sides. Instead, the NHLPA began voting Sunday on whether or not to authorize its executive board to dissolve the union (a la disclaimer of interest). Players have five days to vote. The league, meanwhile, filed a class-action complaint in federal court and an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

For Hossa, its frustrating going through this again; he was coming off his final season with the Ottawa Senators when the 2004-05 season was canceled.

Its definitely not fun, he said. Were getting to that point where sooner or later well know if the season will start. Were all hoping for a season and well see in the next couple of weeks.

As frustrating as the lockout is, the first few weeks of it helped Hossa, health-wise.

Its kind of funny; the lockout worked for me in the beginning because I didnt have to rush anywhere. I took my time, especially with the head injury, he said. You definitely dont want to return early from that

Hossa started skating with Blackhawks staff back in early October, about six months after he suffered that season-ending concussion from Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres. Hossa said those early skates werent easy.

I definitely had five weeks of extremely high-tempo practices with the conditioning and skating coach (Kevin Delaney), he said. But I felt really good afterward.

So now Hossa waits, as does everyone else involved in the lockout. Hes ready to suit up for the Blackhawks, but if need be will play elsewhere. And hes not worried any lingering issues with the concussion.

Its been a while. Thats why I wanted to make sure I was practicing hard here with the staff and they did an excellent job. We took our time and I was at the level where I felt comfortable. Felt like I was before (the concussion) and that was important for me, he said. When I got cleared, that was the time, if the season started, that I could play.

In the next few weeks we have to get a result (on if there isisnt an NHL season). Hopefully its a positive one, Hossa said. If not, Ill do the next step and maybe look for other options.

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Same mistakes resurface

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Same mistakes resurface

COLUMBUS, Ohio – We’ll save you some time tonight. The Blackhawks lost another one in familiar fashion. You can guess what our focus will be, so let’s get right to it.

Here are Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

1. We’re trying not to pick on the penalty kill again, but… it cost them again. The Blackhawks gave up their 10th and 11th power-play goals in their first five games on Friday night. Opponents are planting themselves in front of Corey Crawford and, be it screens or tips, they’re capitalizing. Long-distance shots are getting through far too often. “I think our focus always has to be 5-on-5. When our effort and our energy and our work ethic is there it usually translates into our special teams and I don’t know. It’s frustrating," Jonathan Toews said. "We definitely have to keep pushing to find a solution. Even when it seems like we’re doing a good job bounces go against us. We deserve all the criticism and we just have to keep finding ways, dig deep and really try to dig ourselves out of this thing.”

2. The seven-defenseman set. Quenneville didn’t want Trevor van Riemsdyk sitting out too long, and for a few days it looked like Brian Campbell was going to be the odd-man out tonight. Instead the Blackhawks went with seven, which gave them the chance to rotate and put Campbell back on his natural left. With that, however, the forward lines were naturally skewed. Patrick Kane played nearly 29 minutes. Quenneville said earlier this season that it wouldn’t be something the Blackhawks would try often. Speaking of van Riemsdyk…

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Van Riemsdyk hurt again. You have to feel for van Riemsdyk. He finally got healthy last season playing in all 82 games after knee and wrist injuries sidelined him the previous one. Now it looks like he’ll be out again after he went hard into the net late in the second period. Van Riemsdyk got tangled up and his right arm/shoulder collided with the post.

4. Tyler Motte gets his first. The University of Michigan product scored his first career NHL goal, a rebound off a Toews shot in the second period. Considering the game’s outcome, however, Motte’s enthusiasm was tempered. “It was exciting. It felt good to chip in offensively but obviously the real story is us losing another game,” he said. “We were better in the offensive zone but there are still some things to improve on. The most important thing is winning games.”

5. Brandon Saad great but stymied. The former Blackhawks left wing had some tremendous scoring opportunities on Friday. He had a team-high seven shots, most high quality, but Crawford stopped him every time. Just in case anyone needed a reminder of what the kid is capable of, regardless of which sweater he’s wearing.

Penalty kill struggles again in Blackhawks’ loss to Blue Jackets

Penalty kill struggles again in Blackhawks’ loss to Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Blackhawks were trying a different look on Friday, going with seven defensemen. But at the end of the night, it was something all too familiar contributing to their downfall.

Tyler Motte scored the first goal of his NHL career but the Blackhawks gave up two more power-play goals in their 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night. It was another night on which special teams doomed the Blackhawks; through the first five games of their regular season, their penalty kill has now allowed 11 goals.

And the loss could also sting them, personnel-wise. Trevor van Riemsdyk went hard into the post late in the second period and did not return. Coach Joel Quenneville said van Riemsdyk, who has had his injury issues in the past, “may be out for a bit.” Quenneville added that he’ll know more on Saturday.

Quenneville dressed seven defensemen to get everyone playing. Van Riemsdyk had been a healthy scratch the previous three games. It also gave him a chance to put Brian Campbell back on the left, his normal side. But regardless of the new defensive look, the penalty kill remained its unreliable self.

“It just seems a lot of times it’s a quick play off a faceoff and it’s in our net,” said Duncan Keith. “It’s a few different things and obviously, we as players, we need to take ownership of it and figure out a way to get the job done. You watch it, there’s lots of different things.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno was set up right in front of Corey Crawford on both of their successful power plays. On the first, a Zach Werenski goal, Foligno set the screen. On the second, he tipped David Savard’s shot. The Blackhawks’ confidence has to be shaken, and that never helps.

“It’s the same way 5-on-5: I think when you’re snake bitten you tend to try too hard and do too much. That can end up hurting you as well,” Jonathan Toews said. “As forwards I think that’s the No. 1 thing. We have to be better getting in shot lanes. It started on the road against Nashville, they scored two goals going right past our forwards and it kind of led one game after another to today.”

Still, the Blackhawks had a great chance to find an equalizer at the end. They got a power play with 3:26 remaining. Despite some good scoring chances, and Crawford pulled for an extra attacker, the Blackhawks couldn’t capitalize. Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 32 of 34 shots in the victory.

The Blackhawks can’t stop the bleeding on the penalty kill. It’s cost them in all three of their losses and it’s made their two victories closer than necessary. They know what the problems are. They have to fix them fast.

“Both plays could have been prevented, whether it was a block, clear, just got to get sharper, more determination and try to stay out of the box,” Quenneville said. “Starts from the faceoff to a clear to shots and recognize when there’s a chance to pressure. We had a couple of opportunities there. they end up in our net right now.”