Blackhawks

Marian Hossa looks more like himself in Blackhawks' Game 5 win

Marian Hossa looks more like himself in Blackhawks' Game 5 win

Marian Hossa talked about his goal-scoring struggles. They had been there through most of the regular season and continued through the first four games of the first round.

“It’s a little frustration, but also you don’t try to get frustrated because then you’re not playing your way. You also try to stay positive because there are lots of chances,” Hossa said heading into Game 5 against the St. Louis Blues. “Our guys are getting lots of chances. One ugly one and hopefully it’s gonna go in.”

Hossa’s first goal of the postseason wasn’t ugly; it was a slick, short-handed goal that gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. And Hossa’s overall game is what he was looking for and what the Blackhawks needed in their 4-3 double-overtime victory over the Blues. Hossa played just under 25 minutes on Thursday, recording a team-high seven shots on goal and three takeaways.

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The Blackhawks made drastic line changes entering Thursday’s game for several reasons. A few top players, Hossa included, were still looking for their first goal of the postseason. The Blackhawks were down 3-1 in the series and looking for a spark of any kind. And they were trying to figure out a way to contain the Blues’ top line of Jaden Schwartz, Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Stopping that Blues’ trio was the Blackhawks’ overall assignment, but fell mainly to Hossa, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Ladd. It worked pretty well. While Schwartz did score on Thursday, the Blackhawks held the other two off the score sheet. That was especially key regarding Tarasenko, who had three goals and two assists in the three previous games.

Bringing Hossa into that equation helped.

“Hoss should be a role model for every single young player. Just to look at him and see how he back-checks and how strong he is with the puck. Still going so strong with his age,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said of the 37-year-old Hossa. “He's one of the most impressive guys that I've been around, the way he works in every single way.”

Perhaps Hossa’s strong Game 5 came with getting moved to the third line, getting a bit of a change. Or maybe, like a few other players, he was just due. Whatever the reason, Hossa made an impact on both sides of the puck. 

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.