The Blackhawks have found ways to press on when they’ve lost a top player. Now they’ll have to do it again.
Marian Hossa will be out about two weeks as the Blackhawks head into tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hossa sustained a lower-body injury in the Blackhawks’ overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday and was placed on injured reserve on Sunday afternoon.
“Hopefully two weeks,” coach Joel Quenneville said of the time Hossa will miss. “That’s probably what we’re looking at.”
It’s a big loss, considering everything Hossa does on both sides of the puck.
“You’re used to having a guy in the lineup for a long time, especially a guy like Hossa, after a while you might take for granted what that guy might bring to your room or to your team. You realize how much you miss someone when they’re gone. That’s definitely the case for Hoss,” Jonathan Toews said. “At the same time it’s the same as always: we have to find ways to step up and have other guys assume some responsibility, whether it’s power play or penalty kill or 5-on-5. The two-way game Hossa plays is huge for us. I’m sure some guys who will get added ice time will be ready for it.”
One of those guys is Panik, who will start on the Blackhawks’ top line tonight. Panik’s last goal came during a few minutes with the top line in the Blackhawks’ victory over Colorado on Feb. 2.
“It’s just a great opportunity for me to show what I’m capable of,” Panik said. “I’m just going to try to play my game. It’s been working for me so far, so I’ll stick with it.”
Certainly, it’ll take more than one player to replace everything Hossa does. Panik gets the start on the top line tonight but Quenneville said Teuvo Teravainen could see time on that line as well. Regardless, the Blackhawks will collectively have to fill the void.
“It’s a good test and certainly you get a good look at some guys. There’s great opportunity, power play, penalty killing, important minutes, defensive situations, last-minute periods in games, all quality ice time you want to have out there,” Quenneville said. “Guys will be pushing for the opportunity to get it and hopefully they can take advantage.
"Certainly you have a guy [Hossa] who plays the right way in all those situations; there’s an appreciation of our team game that gets reinforced with him doing it night in, night out. There are certain areas [in which] we have to get deeper as a team of everyone doing the right things.”