Updated: October 22, 2013 10:53PM
SUNRISE, Fla. — By nearly anyone’s standards, Marian Hossa has had a solid start to the season. But Hossa isn’t just anyone, and he still feels he’s not at 100 percent since missing the preseason with a back injury. Most of all, he feels his timing isn’t right.
“It’s still coming,” he said before Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Panthers. “I still don’t feel I’ve had my best game yet. I’m working on it.”
Hossa has three goals and two assists in five games. He’s also a plus-4, and entered Tuesday’s action second in the league with 19 takeaways, one behind Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk and a seven ahead of the next nearest competitor. It’s nothing new for Hossa, one of the top two-way players in the league for years now.
“When I first came into the league, I was all about offense,” he said, adding that he learned the techniques of solid defense from teammates over the years.
Perhaps the most encouraging stat for Hossa, who’s been dealing with a nerve issue in his back that cost him Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, is that he’s played every game, including a back-to-back set on Oct. 11 and 12.
“It’s still not the best, but I am pleased with how it’s going, especially with [such] a short summer and not much time to recover,” he said. “So far, I’m pretty pleased.”
The Hawks’ moms are along for the Florida trip. The group had a big meal to kick off the trip on Monday night.
“Started off with a lot of food, and it’ll probably end that way,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
Quenneville said the Hawks haven’t changed their behavior or their manners with their moms around. Well, not entirely.
“Maybe the language might have been better,” he said.
Quenneville and Panthers coach Kevin Dineen were teammates for six seasons with the Hartford Whalers and are good friends. Dineen said he wasn’t surprised that the Hawks have thrived, and that they’re fourth in the league in shots allowed per game, at 26.5.
“They’re coached from a defensive mind-set,” Dineen said. “Joel was not known for his offensive prowess. It’s not his strength. … He was a very cerebral defenseman.”
Dineen was smirking when he said that, of course.
‘ ‘‘Slow’ is the word,” Quenneville said. “He was just trying to be polite.”