Over the Olympic break, I’ll be doing a daily review of the Chicago Blackhawks‘ players and giving out grades based on his or their performance during the 2013-14 season. Today, we examine Michal Handzus and Marian Hossa.
Handzus has had a trying season, to put it mildly. Prior to Joel Quenneville mercifully taking Handzus off the second line in early January, Patrick Kane hadn’t registered a goal in more than 220 minutes spent at 5-on-5 with him. Things haven’t improved much since as Handzus has oscillated between ineffective play and sitting in the press box as a healthy scratch.
Relative corsi does Handzus no favors. His numbers are horrific in light of the high-quality linemates he has enjoyed for most of the season. In terms of point production, a mere 11 points in 41 games sees the negative theme continue. Delving a level deeper, Handzus’ skating has taken an additional step back this season. This is an unavoidable reality for an aging player as he is, but it becomes more problematic when considered in conjunction with the aforementioned other deficiencies.
Final Verdict: F
Handzus has had his moments on the penalty kill, but not enough to make up for what has been an otherwise dreadful 2013-14.
In stark contrast to the above, appraising Hossa’s season to date is a largely positive exercise. Once again one of the team’s best power play, penalty kill and even strength players, Hossa’s versatility has been on full display for Chicago. His play has assuaged concerns over last spring’s back injury, and he is on track to have one of his healthiest full seasons as a Blackhawks player.
Hossa’s current pace places him at 36 goals and 75 points in a complete 82-game season, more or less on par with what he has provided every year since signing in the Windy City. There truly is no reasonable complaint to be made here; Hossa’s possession numbers suggest he is as dominant as ever, he has been a consistent two-way force like usual, and he’s even leading the league in takeaways.
Final Verdict: A
Unlike his fellow Slovak Olympian, Hossa has managed to hold off the looming specter of age this season.