Blackhawks feel absence of surprise scratch Hossa
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said after the 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins that Hossa is "day-to-day" with an upper-body injury. There were reports that something happened to Hossa during the pregame warmup, in which he participated, but Quenneville said the injury had nothing to do with what transpired during the skate.
Regardless of where the injury took place, the Blackhawks felt Hossa's absence.
"He's a big loss for our team," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said. "I don't know what his status is, so it's tough to comment. But I think we had guys step in and playing different roles. I thought the lines got some chances, even though we were missing Hossa."
Hossa is tied for the team lead with 15 points during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He is third on the team with seven goals and 65 shots on goal.
Maybe more than the raw statistics, Hossa has been a dominant player at both ends of the ice for the Blackhawks during this postseason run. He’s also probably been the team’s most consistent forward, and one of the team’s top contenders, along with defenseman Duncan Keith and goaltender Corey Crawford, for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Ben Smith replaced Hossa in the lineup. Smith played in all seven playoff games during an opening-round loss to the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 playoffs, and he had three goals in that series. But he played only one game for the Blackhawks during the 2012-13 regular season -- the season finale -- and had not dressed during the playoffs.
"They tell us all along, be ready," Smith said. "For all the Black Aces, it's been seven weeks now. Be ready -- you never know when you're going to get your opportunity. So you work hard every day and stay in shape and stay in game form and I was fortunate enough to get one. When you get it, you just go with it and play your game and play the best of your availability."
Quenneville shuffled all of his forward lines to cope with Hossa's absence. He started the contest with a unique trio -- top center Jonathan Toews between fourth-line wings Marcus Kruger and Michal Frolik -- and proceeded to seek balance through the lineup.
Patrick Kane started with Michal Handzus and Brandon Saad. Patrick Sharp was on a line with Smith and Dave Bolland. Playoff star Bryan Bickell was with Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg, another addition to the Game 3 lineup.
The Blackhawks survived the first period despite one furious push by the Bruins. They were unable to do the same in the second, as Boston seized control with a pair of goals and could have had more if not for some great work by goaltender Corey Crawford. After the Blackhawks fell behind by two goals, Quenneville started tinkering again but offense proved hard to generate.
"I didn't mind the first period," Quenneville said. "I thought we had a [good] first period coming in here in this building, did what we wanted to do. They got momentum off scoring first. The second period slowed us down, obviously [them] getting their second goal. [In the] third period -- we were pressing, we were coming. They're a good D already, it's tough to generate a lot. I didn't mind the lines. I didn't mind our start. I thought we had balance. That was the reason."