Marian Hossa looked like he hadn’t missed a day.
Despite being out with an upper-body injury since Dec. 20, Hossa was back batting for pucks, skating well and throwing in a successful slap shot in the Blackhawks’ practice-ending shootout drill.
“It’s exciting to have him back in the lineup but more importantly, for his sake, he looked really good out there. Looks like he hasn't missed a beat,” Kane said. “Any time you get a player of that caliber that adds so much to your lineup back in, hopefully he’s playing tomorrow and it should give us a big boost.”
Hossa is expected to play on Thursday when the Blackhawks host the Buffalo Sabres and the right wing can’t help but give the team a boost. The Blackhawks are 1-4-1 in Hossa’s absence – since he only played three minutes of that Ottawa game, you might as well include it. They’ve suffered in a few categories without him, from puck possession to scoring. So Hossa, his puck-possession, puck-battle success rate and his 16 goals, are definitely welcomed back.
Now to see if Hossa goes right back to the great level he was at prior to his injury.
“We’ll see,” Hossa said. “Hopefully it’s not going to be too bad, but obviously missing close to two weeks, maybe you can look at it as it’s not that much. But when you play in the middle of the season, you can feel it. So definitely… [I] want to make sure I get myself into the game.”
Again, if it means anything, Hossa looked great on Wednesday. Missing just over two weeks was frustrating for Hossa, who has played great this season, but it wasn’t worth rushing back.
“I would love to be back faster, but at this point, it was smarter to wait,” he said. “Obviously you don’t want to lose too much when you feel you’ve got things going your way, but sometimes you cannot help it.”
The Blackhawks have been good about wading through injuries this season but you only have to look at their record to know how much they missed Hossa. Who knows if he picks up right where he left off but, even if the goals aren’t there immediately, the rest of his much-needed game should be.
“He’s been a big part of our offense with timely goals this year, plus you use him in all situations,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Just his presence adds so much to our room and our team, and just to watch him in practice you can see that. It was nice having him.”