Hossa stops by United Center, provides extra motivation
CHICAGO -- There is no shortage of motivations to pick from in this Western Conference Quarterfinal series for the Chicago Blackhawks.
There's the spot they put themselves, getting down 3-1 in the series and trying to overcome the odds of being eliminated when they face the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday in Game 6.
There's last season's first-round exit in overtime of Game 7 in Vancouver that's still a bitter memory. And then there's star teammate Marian Hossa, who will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury.
Hossa, who was taken off the ice on a stretcher in Game 3 after an illegal hit by now-suspended Phoenix forward Raffi Torres, visited his teammates Monday for the first time since the incident happened.
Apparently, just seeing Hossa's face was all the motivation some players needed.
"He's our teammate and me ... I'm close with him," forward Michael Frolik said. "He's from Slovakia, so we are close friends. When it happened, we said in the room, 'We have to play for him,' and you don't want to see things like that. It maybe gets us closer and ... for sure, we're trying to win for him."
Viktor Stalberg took it a step further by saying the Hawks also want to win the series just to extend the playoffs and see if Hossa possibly could return from his injury to play again.
"You never want to see a guy go down like that," Stalberg said. "We'd certainly like to have him in the lineup. He's been our best player all season long. It definitely hurts us, but hopefully he's getting better and you never know, we might get him back at some point if we keep progressing. I think that's the ultimate goal ... to get him a chance to get back here."
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said there is no news to report as far as Hossa's injury condition, but believed just getting back around the team was a positive for all parties.
While Hossa won't be returning anytime soon, Chicago will get rookie forward Andrew Shaw back for Game 6 after he served a three-game suspension for running into Phoenix goalie Mike Smith behind the net in Game 2.
Shaw said he doesn't think the incident will change the intensity that allows him to overcome a perceived size disadvantage to be a pest for opponents at both ends of the ice.
"I'm just going to play my game and not change a thing," Shaw said. "Those things happen once in a while. Accidents do happen, but I'm just going to stick to my game and do the best that I can do."
He's also thrilled to get what he called a "second chance at the playoffs" after watching the Hawks win Game 5 in Phoenix in overtime -- which gave him the opportunity to get back in his first postseason series.
"I'm so excited," Shaw said. "When [Toews] scored there in overtime, I was hooting and hollering all around the [locker room], just excited to get another chance to play in the playoffs."