Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010
By Chris Boden
Six days after leaving early in the second period against the Kings, Marian Hossa was back on the ice with his teammates at Tuesday's practice. Wearing a white (non-contact) jersey, Hossa went through most drills while being conservative with his shots, and was careful afterwards not to reveal too much about his upper-body injury, while hoping to return on or around the original two-week estimate.
"Definitely I feel the progress. I'm getting there - probably halfway and just...big progress since the injury the last five days. Skating went well. Obviously, five days during the season's a long time without the ice. You can feel it even when I was running and biking. It's still different than skating."
Hossa got off to a torrid start, with seven goals and 11 points the first seven games. He confirmed the injury happened out of an awkward fall following a collision with the Kings' Jarret Stoll, but is glad his sideline time won't be anywhere close to what it was a year ago, when he missed the first 22 games following shoulder surgery.
"I went through this last year. The good thing was the MRI showed lots of good stuff so I don't have to worry about something. Right now I'm happy with how it's going and how it's progressing."
The Blackhawks feel they're progressing as a team, even though "happy" might not be their, or some fans', adjective of choice. Puck possession has gotten better the last two games, when they've outshot the Wild and Rangers (albeit opponents with some of their own top offensive guns sidelined). They're also just one game behind their pace through 14 games a year ago. They've scored one more goal, but allowed seven more in that time. They'd be much better right now if they could start and finish periods better defensively, and do a better job locking down after scoring themselves. My (very) unscientific research shows they've permitted nine goals in the first 2:43 of periods, allowed another nine thus far over the final 3:05 of periods, and have given up seven within 2:26 of scoring themselves. Each applied to the Rangers' goals in Monday's 3-2 loss in New York.
"It's something we talked about," said Patrick Kane, whose equalizer in the third period was negated by the eventual game-winner just 26 seconds later. "Taking advantage of those shifts we're out there. It's still a learning process, the 14th, 15th game. We still gotta tighten things up. Better now than later in the season."
"We talked as a group about taking pride and wanting to be out there in those big shifts following goals in last minutes of periods," Head Coach Joel Quenneville added. "You get rewarded by getting the job done going forward off of that. We're trying to make sure when you're out there, take advantage of it and get the job done."
Troy Brouwer was a bit more descriptive.
"Whenever you score a goal, the team gets up and gets momentum. If a team gets on ya right away and is able to score or get a good shift on you it kills your momentum. We made ourselves vulnerable a couple times last game and we either took a penalty or got scored on the very next shift. It just kills your team. It's tough to come back from and to establish momentum again."
Brouwer and company will try to exhibit that killer instinct against a New Jersey team that's vulnerable Wednesday night (7:00 p.m. "Chevy Blackhawks Pregame Live" on Comcast SportsNet). The Devils are on the last stop of a six-game road trip that took them to California, then Vancouver Monday night. Since an opening 4-3 overtime win, they've scored just 17 goals the last 12 games, and own an NHL-worst 3-9-1 record.
Other Ice Shavings: Dave Bolland did not join Hossa on the ice, and there was no further word on the likelihood of his return from the injury list when he's eligible Saturday in Atlanta. Fernando Pisani did not practice, but Quenneville says he's good-to-go Wednesday. Forwards Ben Smith and Ryan Potulny were sent back to Rockford of the AHL after three and two games, respectively, with the Hawks. Both went scoreless. The moves appear to open the way for Winger Bryan Bickell to return against the Devils after being a healthy scratch the last two games.
Campbell's Cards for Kids: Brian Campbell's back, and so is his "Texas Hold Em" tournament at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, benefitting his charitable foundation, "Campbell for Kids." It's January 18, 2011, with proceeds going to the Chicagoland Chapter of Autism Speaks, and Chicago's Beard School, serving 3- to 9-year-olds who have severe autism andor emotional disorders. Last year's event raised 100,000 in net proceeds, and like the inaugural event last winter, Campbell's teammates, Blackhawks alumni, and other athletes and celebrities will join him. Admission is 150, which includes drinks, dining, up-close tournament viewing, live casino gaming, and a silent auction. The Poker Tournament "buy-in" is an additional 175, and any player who eliminates any of the participating Blackhawks will get the jersey off that player's back. For more information about the event and purchasing tickets, visit www.campbellforkids.org.
Chris Boden is the host of Blackhawks Pre and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet.