Marian Hossa’s 45 career playoff goals are second among active players (Jaromir Jagr, 78). But Hossa has not scored a goal in his last 19 postseason games. He has six assists in this year’s playoffs, but no goals.
“That’s news to me. Seems like he scores every night,” Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “He’s such a great player for us. He’s been huge all playoffs long. He might not be scoring goals, but he’s setting guys up for a lot of goals and doing a lot of stuff out to help us win games.”
That’s the thing about Hossa. He does so may things well, his scoring — prolific as he’s been in his career —can be almost an afterthought.
“[We know] how he is around the puck, how well he checks, how [good] he is with the puck, puck possession, puck protection, coming up with loose pucks, denying these guys rush chances, how he plays in his own end,” Joel Quenneville said. “His positioning is A-1, perfect. Everyone would like to score more, but if you play the team game, sometimes they go in for you. We still expect him to score but we know he’ll play the right way.”
Stepping it up
In the opener of the Wild series, the Hawks played with the lead for more time (49:14) than they did in the entire six-game series against the Predators (29:34).
Friends become enemies
The series’ two premier agitators — Andrew Shaw and Matt Cooke —both list Belleville, Ontario, as their hometowns. Shaw is 23, and Cooke is 36, but the two know each other well.
“He’s technically from Sterling, which is just outside,” Shaw clarified. “I grew up watching him and I skate with him and work out with him in the summer. I’ve known Cookie for a long time, I know his brother well. He’s one of those guys you’d rather have on your team than play against, for sure. He’s a hard-working guy out there.”
Does that friendship go out the window once the puck drops?
“Oh, for sure, especially this time of year,” Shaw said. “It’s a lot different. Playoffs is more intense and you kind of go out there and focus and play hard, no matter who you’re playing against.”
In search of more speed, the Wild inserted forward Erik Haula into their lineup for Game 2. Haula was a healthy scratch for the Wild’s first seven playoff games.
Haula’s speed made a difference, with three goals in last year’s playoff series against the Hawks — including the only two goals the Wild scored after they had tied the series 2-2.
“What it came down to is No 1, Haulzy’s speed — we want that to be a factor,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “And No. 1, some of his past performances against [the Hawks] even this year and more so probably last year in the playoffs.”
Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk enjoys the challenge of playing at the United Center and facing the wrath of Hawks fans.
“You know that if they’re yelling at you and giving you a hard time, it’s usually because you’re doing a good job,” said Dubnyk, who allowed four goals on 35 shots in Game 1. “This has always [been] one of my favorite places to play. It’s such a great atmosphere and always an exciting game to play. You always know you’re in tough against this group. Hopefully I can create some good memories here.”
Contributing: Mark Lazerus