Blackhawks still have Marian Hossa when it matters
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter February 5, 2014 11:50PM
Updated: February 5, 2014 11:55PM
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Marian Hossa is resting, not coasting.
The 35-year-old Hossa, who has missed 13 games over the last two seasons with various injuries and played plenty more despite them, did not participate in practice Tuesday in Los Angeles. The day before, he skipped the morning skate.
‘‘I don’t know what Q told you,’’ Hossa said to a small group of reporters, referring to coach Joel Quenneville.
Quenneville said it was a maintenance day.
‘‘Oh — that’s what it is. Perfect,’’ Hossa responded with a chuckle.
Whether he truly is resting or nursing an injury is a moot point as the veteran continues to be one of the Blackhawks’ most consistent producers and one of the NHL’s best two-way forwards.
Entering Wednesday’s late game against the Anaheim Ducks, Hossa’s 23 goals were tied for 13th in the NHL. His 48 points were 23rd. But his plus-24 rating was sixth, tied with teammate Brent Seabrook. Hossa added a goal and an assist to those totals after the Blackhawks’ 2-0 win over the Ducks. He had scored a point in 35 of his last 48 games, including 10 of his last 12. He has not gone more than two consecutive games without a point since Oct. 12.
At this stage of his career, he doesn’t have to participate in every practice or morning skate.
‘‘It is huge when you can have some extra days off,’’ he said, ‘‘and maybe not going on the ice but working on something different in the dressing room or at the gym. As long as you feel good on the ice, that’s the most important thing.’’
Quenneville, who usually has a deft touch with playing time and line combinations, is being careful to make sure Hossa can go all-out in every game and last the entire season. That Hossa will play for Slovakia in the Olympics when a two-week break might not hurt is of no concern to Quenneville.
‘‘He’s fine. I don’t think it’s an issue at all,’’ the coach said.
While teams such as the Los Angeles Kings and Ducks appear to be coasting toward the Olympic break, the Hawks, who have had their own problems recently, are intent on finishing strong. They entered Wednesday 2-0-2 on their six-game road trip, with three strong games against the Vancouver Canucks (5-2 victory), San Jose Sharks (2-1 shootout loss) and Kings (5-3 victory).
They have 10 players who will participate in the Olympics, but Quenneville said he will wait until after Sochi to determine just how fit his team is for the stretch drive.
‘‘We’re playing to win every game,’’ he said. ‘‘You’re aware of what’s coming down the pike, no matter if they’re going [to the Olympics] or not. I don’t think that’s changing our minds about ice time or who’s going to play with who. It’s more dictated by how the game goes.
‘‘We’ve had a good trip here. We’ve played the right way. As we come out of [the Olympic break], I’ll be a little bit more concerned about where the guys that played over there are as far as their energy and the emotional part of their game. But [on this trip] we’re playing to win one game at a time, and I think every game will take care of it.’’
The Hawks are trying to keep their eyes off the Olympics and the break and focusing on a strong finish.
‘‘So far the trip is going good. We’ve played a bunch of great games,’’ Hossa said. ‘‘We just want to make sure when game time comes, we’re focused right from the beginning, and I think the last three games we did an excellent job of that.’’