James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Hold your breath for Hossa

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Whenever an injury-prone but talented player has a nice start, people tend to begin kicking themselves. It’s the fantasy equivalent to foregoing a Lottery Ticket on Powerball day, or at least when someone at your scrubby local gas station wins $1K on a scratch-off.

For many, Marian Hossa has been that guy.

He’s been a tough nut to crack even before last season, merely because he was already a talented-but-aging forward (34 years old) who plays a two-way game that occasionally doesn’t produce numbers becoming of a player at his skill level. Sure, when you see his name come up in round five or so, you groan … but he’s occasionally tough to categorize.

Hossa’s true value was a bit tough to ID. His 77-point output in the regular season was his best output since the first two seasons following the lockout, when he had 92 and 100 points.

But then that terrible Raffi Torres hit happened, and the mystery deepened. The 34-year-old Slovakian was carted off the ice in Chicago's playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes, ending his postseason with a frightening concussion. Even if he could play in 2013, how truly convinced were fantasy owners that he would be the same guy? Would this convince Hossa to stay on the perimeter?

Nope, he’s been fantastic. Up until Jannik Hansen’s controversial hit, Hossa has been up there with Jonathan Toews as Chicago’s second-best fantasy forward behind Patrick Kane (22 points). He was especially great on Tuesday, scoring goals seven and eight on five shots even though he was just through two periods of play.

Overall, Hossa has been strong, with eight goals and 14 points, a +6 rating, 12 PIM, two GWG and 51 shots on goal in 16 games.

My guess is Hansen doesn’t get a suspension, although who knows. Sadly, the NHL bases its justice system partially on the severity of injuries, so that might factor into the decision.

The early reaction from Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville is that Hossa “seemed OK.” It sounds like he didn’t need to go to a hospital, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Chicago has him visit a specialist. In other words, things are in the early goings.


The Hossa injury wasn’t the only significant concern from Tuesday’s action. Detroit Red Wings fans held their collective breath as key goalie Jimmy Howard left the team’s eventual 4-3 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators.

Looking at Howard's numbers, it's not as if he's lighting up the world. He just has a 6-5-2 record with a substandard .897 save percentage and 3.08 GAA. Even with mediocre stats, the fact of the matter is that the Red Wings depend heavily on the 28-year-old netminder, appearing in 14 of the team’s 16 games.

It’s just another tough break for Detroit, which has been damaged by injuries. Niklas Kronwall dodged a bullet when he was boarded. Cory Emmerton was bloodied. Mikael Samuelsson was hurt when he was struck by a puck during practice.

Combine those ailments - even ones that might not result in time lost - with existing issues for guys like Todd Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen and Darren Helm and things are looking rough for the Red Wings.

Keep an eye on Jonas Gustavsson to see how their starts shake out if Howard misses a significant amount of time.

More from around the league after the jump.

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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien

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