Marian Hossa said the Detroit Red Wings “would have a little better of a chance to win the Cup,” an infamous quote from a news conference earlier in his career.
The Chicago Blackhawks might have no chance to win the Stanley Cup without him, evidenced by a 2-0 Boston Bruins victory after the gifted forward became a last-minute scratch before Game 3 at TD Garden on Monday night.
“Losing Hoss sucks, but we have plenty of guys who can fill in,” Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said. “We have a deep team. That’s been the key to our success all season. Obviously, we want Hoss playing. If he’s not, we’re still confident we can still win games.”
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Hossa — tied for the ‘Hawks lead in playoff scoring with 15 points — has an upper-body injury and is day-to-day.
“We’re hopeful he’ll be ready for the next game,” Quenneville said.
Quenneville said the injury didn’t occur in warm-ups, and captain Jonathan Toews said it “was something that we were prepared for all day,” even though Hossa skated with the team earlier Monday and there hadn’t been indication, at least publicly, he was hurt.
The Blackhawks were dominated as the Bruins grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Hossa’s absence sapped what little punch the Blackhawks’ offense had. Chicago hasn’t scored since Sharp’s tally in the first period of Game 2.
That’s a drought of 122 minutes, 26 seconds.
Toews denied that Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, who recorded his third shutout of the postseason, is in their heads.
“No, I don’t think so,” Toews said. “Look to the series we had against Detroit. We had a little time where we had trouble scoring goals and sometimes it happens. (Rask has) got a lot of confidence. They’re playing well around him, and we’ve just got to be better and work harder for those loose pucks.”
The Blackhawks rallied from a 3-1 deficit in that second-round series, although that was with Hossa.
“It’s always tough to lose Hoss,” Toews said. “He does so much. Whether it’s on the penalty kill, power play, five-on-five, he’s a key part of it. There are no excuses this time of year. We have guys who can step up and play.”
Ben Smith, who hadn’t played a game this postseason, was inserted for Hossa and played 10:23. (Forward Viktor Stalberg also was inserted in place of Brandon Bollig, a move that was announced after the pregame skate). Quenneville shuffled lines all night, although nothing seemed to work.
Chicago’s offensive troubles were no more apparent than on the power play.
The ‘Hawks were 0-for-5 on their extra-man opportunities, making it 20 consecutive power play chances without a goal. Chicago had just four shots in those five chances in Game 3. The best scoring opportunities on the Blackhawks’ power plays were by the Bruins, including a partial breakaway by Brad Marchand that just trickled off his stick.
“We just have to have the mentality that it’s 5-on-5,” Toews said. “We have to work together. The guys without the puck maybe aren’t supporting the guys with the puck. We’re just kind of watching.”
Hossa (three goals) is the only ‘Hawks player with multiple goals on the power play this postseason. He was also their third-leading scorer overall in the regular season (31 points), behind Patrick Kane (55) and Toews (48).
Boston outshot Chicago 35-28. Hossa, a winger, wouldn’t have been much help on another skewed stat from Game 3: face-offs. The Bruins won 71 percent of the draws, including all but one each on the power play and the penalty kill.
“Definitely something that we take a lot of pride in and we talk about a lot,” said Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, who scored the second Boston goal of the night.
Hossa didn’t win a Cup when he signed that one-year deal with the Red Wings, although he had his name etched in it after he helped the Blackhawks to the title in 2010.
Whether any of the Blackhawks get their names on the silver chalice again could hinge on whether Hossa returns — and in what form.