As disappointing as a shootout loss, or a loss in any capacity, to the Arizona Coyotes is, there was at least one very large positive to come out of it: Marian Hossa is showcasing a return to form. After standing out, and being one of the only players to actually do so, in the back-to-back set for the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday and Monday, Hossa is beginning to find a rhythm on the stat sheet, which is bad news for the rest of the league.
It's not that Hossa has played poorly throughout the season. As was a focus on his bobblehead night on Monday, Hossa has the ability to impact a game in more than just the goal scoring category. He's been a key factor on the Hawks' top line, which is potentially the hardest working line in hockey. As a trio, the group of Hossa, Jonathan Toews, and Brandon Saad maintain a superb forecheck while also playing exceptional defense in their own end from the forward position.
His possession numbers on the season look strong, as do the collective numbers of all three on the top line. Individually, Hossa has posted a CF% of 55.8 for the season. He gets pucks to the net, with 158 shots on the year. That's the second highest total on the team, and only three behind Patrick Kane for the team lead. At the same time, he also plays spectacular defense. A routine snub for the Selke Trophy, as he's not a center, Hossa is tied for seventh in the league with 45. His backchecking prowess is well-documented and well known throughout the league.
With the possession numbers and a simple eye test, Hossa has been as strong a forward as the Blackhawks have had all year. He just hasn't had the point totals to back it up, and is experiencing something of a down year in that respect. Much of that is due to the fact that he is shooting a meager 8.9 percent on the season, and even that didn't come until after his four-goal outburst in the back-to-back. His career average is up at 12.6, giving a pretty strong indication of why he's been relatively quiet in that respect. Prior to Sunday, he had just 10 goals in 52 games. He has four in his last pair of tilts.
As a result, those apparent offensive struggles don't appear to be the case anymore. Hossa's shooting percentage is beginning to adjust itself, as is typically the case for a player with as large a sample size under his belt as Hossa has. With his shooting percentage leveling back out, and his 24 assists coming in as the third-most on the team, Marian Hossa is absolutely finding a rhythm, and is now becoming an even more dangerous forward as a result.
The Blackhawks are completely aware of what Marian Hossa brings to the table. Even in a down year offensively, he was still a tremendous weapon in a variety of ways, when you take into account his backchecking and ability to possess the puck. The increasing goal output just makes it another thing opposing teams have to worry about when they matchup with the Hawks.
Perhaps the even scarier thing for the rest of the National Hockey League is the fact that while Hossa is 36 years old, his game should continue to age well. It's a skill set predicated on strength and possession, rather than speed. He's going to continue to be this type of threat for at least the next couple of years. He doesn't need to score goals to be extremely effective. But now that he is, he's validated as the type of weapon that many of the league's elite are referred to as. That's scary news for the rest of the league.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.