(Photo: NHL Youtube)
Marian Hossa‘s recent hot streak has the NHL hailing him the first star of the week for the week of Feb. 9 to Feb. 15, a stunner for fans, and a motivational force for his own team.
(Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli was named the second star with four goals, two assists. The first place Nashville Predators‘ netminder Pekka Rinne took third star, going 3-0-0 with a .954 save percentage and a 1.30 goals-against average.)
In that time, Hossa led the league with five goals and tied for second with six points in a string of home games Feb. 9 against the Arizona Coyotes, Feb. 11 against the Vancouver Canucks, and two days later versus the New Jersey Devils.
But, throwing in an additional day, Feb. 8, Hossa tallied another two goals against the St. Louis Blues. This was the warmup for multiple points per game in four consecutive games.
St. Louis Blues
In the Blackhawks’ 4-2 victory over the Blues, Hossa was effective on the team’s lagging power play in the third period.
He fired in a shot on a play set up by Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell to give Chicago a 3-2 lead with 8:41 left in the game.
“I just tried to finish it,” Hossa said after the game. “That was a set play and I’m glad it worked.”
The next day, across the Mississippi River and just under 300 miles away back at the United Center, Hossa scored Chicago’s two regulation goals with the help of Captain Jonathan Toews in their shootout loss to the Coyotes.
Marian Hossa: 80th career multi-goal game. Has now scored last 4 #Blackhawks goals.
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) February 10, 2015
The team was unable to score in overtime and lost the shootout for an ultimate 3-2 loss–Coach Joel Quenneville said after the game that Hossa would have been up next had it gone to another round.
After a relatively uneventful first period, the goaltenders stopped a flurry of 77 shots and allowed nine by, counting overtime.
With 7:12 left in the third, Hossa edged Chicago closer to Vancouver’s lead by knocking in a pass from Toews and Saad.
Daniel Sedin extended the Canucks’ lead next, before Saad made it 4-3.
Then, Hossa tied the game with less than a minute in regulation, rushing up ice to take an unbelievable angle shot with moves that would make other 36-year-olds (OK, and me) jealous.
New Jersey Devils
Hossa had one goal and one assist in the Blackhawks 3-1 victory over the Devils. With Toews, Saad, and Brent Seabrook, Hossa was able to continue a points streak on his hot week.
Down by one into the third period, Hossa finessed through the offensive zone on the power play and, with a quick release at the faceoff circle, tied the game.
Hossa then passed back and forth with Toews, ultimately setting the captain up for the go-ahead goal.
This game was a bit of a slump for the Slovakian forward, who, despite 21:34 of ice time didn’t tally a goal or assist in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 shootout win.
Hossa was back in action, though, against his former team. Even though Chicago fell 3-2 in the shootout, his second period assist helped keep the Hawks alive.
Hot, Hot Hossa
In the first 52 games of the season, Hossa scored 10 goals. Now, he is in the Blackhawks’ top three scorers and top-50 for the league.
He told the Chicago Tribune he attributes new skates, additional workouts, and persistence to his recent burst of offense.
“There are lots of great young kids in the league who are strong and fast so I need to do a little bit extra to keep up with them,” Hossa said. “I try to keep working on my speed by doing exercises away from the rink and in the gym on my legs. Little things are helping. I try to keep up.”
His teammates beg to differ.
Versteeg on Marian Hossa at age 36: “Have you seen him with his shirt off? He’s like a Greek god. There’s no slowing down in that frame.”
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 12, 2015
Hossa’s boost is just what the Blackhawks need as they chase the Predators. And it’s a reminder for any players who may be slumping.
“All of a sudden, the puck is going in for you,” Hossa told the Chicago Tribune. “You’re getting more confidence and you start doing more right plays. You start taking people one-on-one and things are going your way. … It’s a little bit of luck with more confidence combined. You have that feeling when you have the puck good things will happen.”
The Blackhawks finish their eight-game homestand with games against the Colorado Avalanche at 7:30 p.m. CT tonight, against the Boston Bruins at 2:00 p.m. CT Sunday, and at 7:30 p.m. CT Feb. 24 against the Florida Panthers.