Blackhawks

Hossa back to early-season, healthy form

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Hossa back to early-season, healthy form

Thursday, March 10, 2011Posted: 2:10 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

TAMPA, Fla. Marian Hossa started the 2010-11 season about as strong as he possibly could have, scoring seven goals over his first seven games.

The few months following, however, were pretty quiet, as Hossa battled injuries and struggled to find the net when he was in the lineup. But lately, Hossa has looked more like his early-season self.

Hossa is finding his offense again, as evidence by his eight-game point streak that just ended against Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. In that span the right wing tallied seven goals and five assists as part of a successful line with Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland.

Hes progressing in the right direction, coach Joel Quenneville said. The first two weeks (of this season) he was at the top level of the game, and now can see him getting better and better. Its nice to see him getting production as well.

For Hossa, a big part of his resurgence is thanks to his improved health, which was a problem through the middle part of the season. He missed five games with a shoulder injury, then 10 games in late Novemberearly December with a lower-body injury after a freak practice collision with former Blackhawks defenseman Nick Boynton. He also missed one game in January (flu) and another in February (vertigo).

Obviously its nice to play a bunch of games and get into a game situation for a longer period of time. It helps to have no injuries, no flu or anything like that. I can just play and get into a game tempo, said Hossa.

Hossa was just starting to develop some chemistry with Bolland, and it was benefiting them both. Bolland was on a four-game point streak before he was injured against Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. If Bolland can get back quickly, that line should go back to its productive ways.

If not, Hossa will be looking to spark that production with another center. Maybe its Michael Frolik, who had a strong game at that spot on Wednesday night after Bollands departure. Frolik and Hossa have played a bit together this season with Tomas Kopecky, and Frolik showed that he can fit in at center just fine, despite not playing there for a while.

Regardless, the Blackhawks need Hossa to keep doing what hes done lately. Hes healthy, hes found his game again, and it can only be beneficial for the Blackhawks as they try to keep pace in the Western Conference. race

I just try to stay focused on the game, Hossa said. Hopefully nothing else will stop it.

Kubina suspended

Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina was suspended for three games Thursday for his elbow to Blackhawks Bolland's head on Wednesday night. Bolland took the hit in the first period of the Blackhawks 4-3 shootout loss and did not return. No penalty was called.

Bolland was to be re-evaluated today.

Kubina will forfeit 60,096.76 for the elbow; the money goes to the Players Emergency Assistance Fund.

Briefly

The Blackhawks did not practice on Thursday. Instead, they visited wounded soldiers and their families at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

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

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 1 win over Sharks

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 1 win over Sharks

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, NBC Sports Chicago is re-airing each of the Blackhawks' 16 postseason wins from the run that ended a 49-year championship drought. You can join the conversation using #HawksRewind on social media.

Despite opening the Western Conference Final on the road, the Blackhawks overcame an early deficit to defeat the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in Game 1 at HP Pavillon. Here are three things we noticed in the win:

1. An epic goaltending battle

The Blackhawks and Sharks ranked third and fourth, respectively, in goals per game going into the playoffs, so it wasn't a surprise to see two of the NHL's best offensive teams reach the Final Four.

The offensive firepower was on full display in Game 1, with the two teams combining for 85 shots on goal, 68 scoring chances and 22 high-danger chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. But it was the goaltending that stole the show.

Antti Niemi made a career-high 44 saves on 45 shots for a save percentage of .978. He also stopped all 13 high-danger chances. His counterpart Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 38 of 40 shots, including all nine high-danger chances, for a save percentage of .950. 

2. Escaping the special teams nightmare

The Blackhawks made Game 1 very difficult on themselves in the special teams department. They committed five minor penalties compared to the Sharks' zero, which is as lopsided a ratio as you'll ever see in the playoffs.

The Sharks capitalized on one of those five chances but credit the Blackhawks for hanging in on the other four. They played a full 60 minutes without a single man advantage and made sure it wasn't the reason they lost the game.

3. The legend of Dustin Byfuglien grows

You are going to see a lot of Byfuglien in this series, and he didn't waste any time.

In a 1-1 tie, a wide-open Big Buff pounded his stick on the ice, received a pass from Patrick Kane in the high slot and buried a slap shot past Nabokov with 6:45 left in regulation and it turned out to be the game-winner.

Byfuglien scored a goal in all four games and was credited with the game-winner in three of them. Game 1 was just the start.

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Blackhawks re-sign Highmore, Lankinen, agree to terms with 2 prospects

Blackhawks re-sign Highmore, Lankinen, agree to terms with 2 prospects

The Blackhawks announced on Thursday that they have re-signed pending restricted free agent forward Matthew Highmore and goaltender Kevin Lankinen, and agreed to terms with forward prospects Evan Barratt and Andrei Altybarmakyan on entry-level contracts.

Highmore's deal runs for two years through the 2021-22 season and carries a $725,000 average annual value (AAV). Lankinen's deal is also for two years and runs through the 2021-22 campaign, and carries a $800,000 AAV.

Barratt's deal runs for three years through the 2022-23 season and carries an $870,000 AAV, while Altybarmakyan's is a two-year deal that runs through the 2021-22 campaign and carries a $817,500 AAV.

Highmore has six points (two goals, four assists) in 36 games with the Blackhawks this season and registered 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 21 games with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Lankinen went 8-10-2 with a 3.03 goals against average and .909 save percentage for Rockford before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery on March 2.

Barratt, who was drafted by the Blackhawks in the third round (No. 90 overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, is the most notable signing. He registered a team-high 12 goals and 22 assists for 34 points in 34 games during his junior season at Penn State, and was also a Hobey Baker nominee in 2019 after setting career-highs in goals (16), assists (27) and points (43) as a sophomore.

Altybarmakyan was also taken in the third round (No. 70 overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft. He registered career highs in goals (six), assists (11) and points (17) in 49 games this season for HK Sochi of the Kontinental Hockey League, and appeared in three games for HK Tambov of the VHL.

With the re-signing of Highmore and Lankinen, the Blackhawks now have nine pending restricted free agents, which most notably includes Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome.

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