Blackhawks

Hossa primed for a big year

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Hossa primed for a big year

Marian Hossa finally got a restful summer.

The Chicago Blackhawks right wing had basically played four seasons' worth of hockey in three, thanks to back-to-back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances. It had taken it's toll. So as disappointed as he was in that the Blackhawks' run ended early last season, he appreciated the chance to rest, get away from the game and train the way he wants.

And just two games in, it's showing.

Hossa did everything but score a goal in his first two games, and that is something that coach Joel Quenneville has appreciated in Hossa all along. Hossa has a complete game, one that's as strong defensively as it is offensively. And the points will get there soon enough.

"You can look at the stat sheet, but whether he scores or not you know he has the puck, he strips people of it, he protects it, he has it and his positioning is always strong," Quenneville said. "He does some amazing things out there. That's how I appreciate what he brings to our team."

Hossa didn't miss a beat despite joining the Blackhawks five days after training camp began and he's been one of the team's top performers in their first two games. He recorded eight shots in Dallas and looks as fit and energetic as ever.

"Mentally and physically, it takes a toll whether it's one summer (of a lot of hockey) or three. For a guy like that (the long break) makes a huge difference," Jonathan Toews said. "Whether you increase expectations or not, he looks good out there. I think he's ready to play his best hockey and that's only going to help us."

And as much as everyone would like to see the high point totals immediately, Hossa is also aiming for another big number elsewhere.

"For sure I would like to play 80, 82 games. That would be my goal," he said recently. "Because I had the longer summer and recovery program, hopefully that helps."

His speed and strength have been evident from the outset. When the Blackhawks went with seven defensemen instead of 12 forwards in their season opener, Hossa double-shifted. He's also found chemistry with Patrick Kane, whose move to center gave the Blackhawks the chance to get the two together. Kane said he's noticed how the summer has benefitted Hossa.

"He looks like he has a powerful stride this year," Kane said. "He's a great backchecker and great defensive player stripping other guys. I'm just happy to be playing with a guy like that and hopefully I just get him the puck in good areas. He looks fast, he looks strong, he looks ready like he's ready to have a big year."

There's no reason to think Hossa won't have a big year again. He had time to recover from those injuries that plagued him the past few seasons. His complete game. A plethora of points shouldn't be far behind.

"I think he's got surprise shots on the ice; he's so quick," said Michael Frolik. "I know he hasn't scored but it's just about that time. He had eight shots in Dallas. It's going to go in soon."

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: