The Chicago Blackhawks wrapped up their 2013 celebrations with their second visit to the White House since 2010. With their Stanley Cup championship now in the rear view mirror, the team looks ahead to repeating their success and once again lay claim to hockey’s greatest prize. For Marian Hossa early on this season it has been all about rediscovering his timing returning to his elite level of play following a back injury last spring. After a gradual start it appears that the one they call Big Hoss is ready to dominate once again.
It became breaking news Game 3 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, Marian Hossa was a surprise scratch for Chicago in the biggest game of the season. Hossa had injured his back once again and was deemed unfit to play. At the time Hossa was tied for the team lead with 15 points, though he returned a game later he was visibly limited in his skating and shooting abilities and added just 1 point in the final 3 games of the series. Following the teams triumphant victory Hossa admitted to being very limited by the injury, but thankfully did not require surgery.
In October Brian Hedger reported on Hossa’s new pregame rituals that the star needed to help deal with the various injuries he has amounted over his career (full article here). Over a month into the 2013-14 season and it appears his new pregame routine is working as Hossa is once again helping lead the Blackhawks in both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game.
It’s been business as usual for Hossa as he leads the team with 26 takeaways in 16 games this season, 10 more than 2nd place Patrick Kane. Hossa has started in 30.7 % of the team’s offensive zone time at even strength while seeing an increased role on the penalty kill being used in 28% of the team’s shorthanded time.
What makes a player like Hossa so special is his ability to seemingly reduce opposing player’s offensive skills while exposing their defensive faults, usually at the same time. Pavel Datsyuk is the only other player that has shown such a knack for quickly turning the momentum of a game and using intelligence in the defensive end to quickly turn into quality offensive opportunities.
With the Blackhawks convincing win over Winnipeg Wednesday night that showed the balanced offensive attack the team has used to overload opponents game after game was officially rolling. Four of the Blackhawks top 6 forwards registered a goal, only Hossa and Saad did not. The game marked the end of Hossa’s impressive point streak in which he amassed 6 points in 4 games (2G, 4A).
Though he did not show up on the score sheet, Hossa was instrumental in shutting down the Jets top offensive players and played a key role in limiting them to just one goal. Whether he is scoring goals or preventing them you can always count on Marian Hossa to take care of things in his own end and create chances in theirs, and that’s something many Blackhawks fans will never get tired of seeing.
Creator of the Bettman Stand Up hockey blog. I cover the Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers, In Hossa we trust! I also write for publications such as Arbitrage Magazine and Elite Sports Blog. You can follow me on Twitter @RickEmrith