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