Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Marian Hossa relieved to snap scoring slump

marian-hossa-scoring-slump-1-11-16.png

Blackhawks: Marian Hossa relieved to snap scoring slump

The chances have been there, be it breakaways, odd-man rushes or just solid scoring opportunities.

Game after game, however, those great chances weren’t going in for Marian Hossa. His goal-less streak reached 14 games, the longest of his career. It was understandable if he was feeling aggravated.

“Well, maybe not as much as when I was younger,” Hossa said. “It probably would’ve been tougher.”

Perhaps the goal-scoring drought would have affected him more during his early career. That doesn’t mean Hossa, who turns 37 on Tuesday, still wasn’t frustrated. But for Hossa it was about keeping his focus, keeping that defensive game going in the midst of the offense going quiet, and figuring it was only a matter of time before goals went in again.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

On Sunday he finally got rewarded, scoring two goals in the Blackhawks’ 6-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Hossa’s happiness and relief were evident when that first one went in 1:39 into the second period. His second came with 1:18 remaining in that period. Playing an all-around game has long been Hossa’s trademark. Still, given the quality chances he was getting, Hossa couldn’t help but feel snake-bitten.

“At my age, it’s not about me just scoring goals. But [with] so many good opportunities it was bugging me that I couldn’t put the puck in. If I wouldn’t have the chances that would be different but I had so many opportunities and the puck didn’t go in,” Hossa said. “I tried to stay positive and keep working hard.”

The Blackhawks’ top line felt the brunt of offseason losses more than anyone. With Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad gone, Hossa and Jonathan Toews have gone through a myriad of left wingers this season. At the same time, Toews and Hossa were looking for consistent scoring in their own games. While Toews was finding more goals lately – seven in his last 13 games – Hossa was being thwarted until Sunday’s breakthrough game.

“I don’t know how many breakaways he’s missed this year but nice to see a couple go in for him,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He was strong in the puck area several times with the positioning, strength and down with the stick, coming up with three or four pucks and sustaining some plays. The finished product was there for him too tonight, so good to see him scoring.”

[MORE: Blackhawks blast Avalanche for seventh straight win]

And the jump Hossa had after he got that first goal was evident the rest of Sunday night.

“He’s a goal-scorer; he wants to score goals. You could see after he scored he made some really nice plays, just holding onto the puck, got a few more chances,” Patrick Kane said. “He was fun to watch [Sunday].”

Whatever Hossa was feeling on the inside about his scoring drought, he didn’t let affect his all-around game. He got back in the goal-scoring column on Sunday. And with 500 goals so close, could that be the outing that leads to a goal-scoring streak?

“That would be nice but every year’s different,” he said. “Obviously this one felt good. I’ll just try to keep working hard and get more opportunities.”

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.

"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

usatsi_9256612.jpg
USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: