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2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Yes, Hossa is valuable to Hawks

Image (1) Hossa1-thumb-250x166-12783.jpg for post 1902

If the Chicago Blackhawks had lost the first two games of this series, or even split them, then we might be talking about how Marian Hossa is undoubtedly cursed.

This is his third straight Stanley Cup finals, and he’s the first player to appear in three straight series with three different teams. He was on the losing end in his two previous trips to the Cup finals, and some thought that the Blackhawks adding Hossa was the kiss of death.

Hossa was almost magical for the Penguins in 2008, acquired at the trade deadline to provide offensive firepower and he responded with 12 goals and 26 points in just 20 games, as the Penguins eventually lost to the Red Wings. Last season, he made the switch over to Detroit, and struggled with his production, scoring just 6 goals in 23 games as the the Wings lost to his former team.

Hossa started the postseason this year in similar fashion, being nearly invisible on the scoreboard as his team rolled through the first three rounds of the playoffs. Thankfully, the rest of his team was scoring and we were left to wonder if perhaps Hossa was pressing too much as he fought to finally, finally hoist the Cup at the end of the postseason.

Coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t worried about his struggles in the first three rounds of the playoffs.

“We really like the way he has progressed in the Playoffs as well. I’m sure he’s excited about the third chance here this year. We really like his contribution in the first two games. I think that line has been very effective in a lot of ways.”

In the first two games of the Cup finals, Hossa has awakened. He’s back to looking like the dominant player he can be and it’s none too soon; with the top line of the Blackhawks struggling mightily, Hossa was needed more than ever to step up his game. He has a goal and two assists in the two games against the Flyers -- not earth shattering numbers but his efforts in other areas of the game that’s made the difference.

Patrick Sharp is certainly glad he’s on the team this season, as he’s been the difference maker they needed him to be:

“He’s been a great addition to the team,” Sharp said this afternoon. “If you ask all 30 teams in the league if they want [Hossa] there they’d take him gladly. We’re lucky to have him on our team.”

Sharp says that Hossa has made a difference for the Blackhawks, even if he’s not putting up a ton of goals.

“He brings so much more to the club than just his goalscoring. Everyone knows him because he scores 40 goals a year, but he’s one of the best two-way wingers in the league. He’s a great locker room guy and the fact that he’s been to three Cup finals is a great thing.”

Hossa looked the best he’s looked all postseason on Monday night in Game 3, as he was a force along the boards and in front of Michael Leighton. His determination was awarded with the first goal of the game, as he beat several Flyers players to a rebound.

Despite not putting up big numbers, he’s been incredibly sound defensively and has been a perfect example for the rest of the team on how to still make a difference even if you’re shots aren’t hitting the back of the net. He’s a plus-11 through 18 games, showing that he hasn’t become overly frustrated despite not scoring at his usual pace.

Quenneville is convinced that Hossa is much, much more to his team than just a goal scorer, and he allows the coaches flexibility with their lines and matchups.

“For sure as a coach you have a lot more options with him on the ice,” the Blackhawks coach said. “I think defensively he really provides a lot of puck possession and defensive responsibility. Offensively if he’s got the puck, he can make plays. That line has been a big factor, and he’s a big part of it. “