Blackhawks shrug off slumps by Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter May 15, 2014 10:11PM
Updated: May 15, 2014 11:25PM
Marian Hossa has scored twice on 50 shots on goal and 78 shot attempts in 12 games in the playoffs.
Patrick Sharp has scored twice on 40 shots on goal and 72 shot attempts in 12 games in the playoffs.
That the Blackhawks’ leading scorers in the regular season — Sharp scored 34 goals, Hossa 30 — have such modest goal production in the postseason is not the Hawks’ problem. If anything, it’s the Anaheim Ducks’ or Los Angeles Kings’ problem. As long as Sharp and Hossa keep firing away, it’s unlikely they’re going to be quiet for very long.
That’s the luxury that allows coach Joel Quenneville to remind anyone who inquires about slumping goal scorers that he doesn’t care who scores the goals in the tight-checking playoffs. And a luxury it is. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma would love to not care about who scores his team’s goals. But he’s at home after Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz combined for two goals in seven games in an upset second-round loss to the New York Rangers.
“There aren’t a lot of goals out there,” Quenneville said. “Teams check well, and they place an emphasis on keeping the puck out of their own end and take advantage of opportunities.
“We’re not really concerned where they come from, but whether it’s a key goal. Steeger [Kris Versteeg] gets a goal — it must’ve felt great for him as well [against the Wild in Game 6].”
The advantage Quenneville has is that he doesn’t have to count on too many goals by Versteeg and Michael Handzus to keep his team alive. Even Quenneville said, “The right guy got to touch the puck in overtime in Game 6,” referring to Patrick Kane’s winning goal against the Wild.
Neither Sharp nor Hossa has been a drag on the overall effort. Sharp still has six points — including a key goal in Game 6 against the Blues — and was the Hawks’ most consistent scorer in the 2010 and 2013 runs to the Cup. Even with two goals, Hossa has been one of the best players in the entire playoffs — his 11 points are tied with teammate Brent Seabrook for seventh among all postseason players. With a goal and eight assists against the Wild, Hossa had a hand in nine of the Hawks’ 15 goals scored in the second round.
“I don’t worry about [goals] too much,” Hossa said. “As long as I play my game, good things will happen. If I score or somebody else scores, as long as we win, that’s what counts.”
Regardless of whether the Hawks can take it up a notch in the Western Conference final, one factor is fairly certain: They have much more ammunition left to do it. Sharp and Hossa are going to keep firing away, and Andrew Shaw’s likely return figures to provide not only the gunpowder but the trigger as well.
Is it really only a matter of time? Take it from someone who knows:
“For sure,” said Kane, who had two goals after the first two rounds last season and finished with nine and the Conn Smythe Trophy.
“Hossa has been playing great and so has Sharpie. They’re both great two-way players.
“I know both of them probably want to score goals, so it’s just one of those things where it’s just a matter of time. You saw Sharpie start to get some chances last game. That’s a big thing — when you start getting chances, you know it’s coming.
“I don’t think we’re worried about them, either, to be honest with you. Sometimes goal scorers are streaky. When you’re feeling it, they keep going in. I don’t know what it is. Sometimes you get a feeling in your body that it’s going to happen.”