Thursday, March 10, 2011Posted: 2:10 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
TAMPA, Fla. Marian Hossa started the 2010-11 season about as strong as he possibly could have, scoring seven goals over his first seven games.
The few months following, however, were pretty quiet, as Hossa battled injuries and struggled to find the net when he was in the lineup. But lately, Hossa has looked more like his early-season self.
Hossa is finding his offense again, as evidence by his eight-game point streak that just ended against Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. In that span the right wing tallied seven goals and five assists as part of a successful line with Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland.
Hes progressing in the right direction, coach Joel Quenneville said. The first two weeks (of this season) he was at the top level of the game, and now can see him getting better and better. Its nice to see him getting production as well.
For Hossa, a big part of his resurgence is thanks to his improved health, which was a problem through the middle part of the season. He missed five games with a shoulder injury, then 10 games in late Novemberearly December with a lower-body injury after a freak practice collision with former Blackhawks defenseman Nick Boynton. He also missed one game in January (flu) and another in February (vertigo).
Obviously its nice to play a bunch of games and get into a game situation for a longer period of time. It helps to have no injuries, no flu or anything like that. I can just play and get into a game tempo, said Hossa.
Hossa was just starting to develop some chemistry with Bolland, and it was benefiting them both. Bolland was on a four-game point streak before he was injured against Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. If Bolland can get back quickly, that line should go back to its productive ways.
If not, Hossa will be looking to spark that production with another center. Maybe its Michael Frolik, who had a strong game at that spot on Wednesday night after Bollands departure. Frolik and Hossa have played a bit together this season with Tomas Kopecky, and Frolik showed that he can fit in at center just fine, despite not playing there for a while.
Regardless, the Blackhawks need Hossa to keep doing what hes done lately. Hes healthy, hes found his game again, and it can only be beneficial for the Blackhawks as they try to keep pace in the Western Conference. race
I just try to stay focused on the game, Hossa said. Hopefully nothing else will stop it.
Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina was suspended for three games Thursday for his elbow to Blackhawks Bolland's head on Wednesday night. Bolland took the hit in the first period of the Blackhawks 4-3 shootout loss and did not return. No penalty was called.
Bolland was to be re-evaluated today.
Kubina will forfeit 60,096.76 for the elbow; the money goes to the Players Emergency Assistance Fund.
The Blackhawks did not practice on Thursday. Instead, they visited wounded soldiers and their families at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.