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Marian Hossa off to slowest start of career

CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa normally does a lot of different things for the Chicago Blackhawks, but he’s still best known for his scoring.

Hossa ranks in the top 10 among active NHL players in career goals and goals per game. He’s been among the Blackhawks’ top four goal scorers every season since he joined them in 2009. He also registered 30 goals just last season for the eighth time in his career.

This season hasn’t followed that script. Hossa is off to the slowest start of his goal-scoring career. He has two goals through 17 games. His lowest previous mark was three goals through the same amount of games as a 19-year-old rookie in 1998. He’s never had less than six goals through 17 games in any other of his 14 NHL seasons and has had eight or more goals in 11 seasons.

Hossa said Saturday he was well aware of where his numbers were at, and he wasn’t happy about it.

“I don't remember a slower start than this in my career in here,” Hossa said. “Of course it bothers me, but I try to stay positive. Obviously, there's lots of games I feel really good. Points or goals doesn't come as I would like. So just try to work hard and stay positive.”

There are some indications Hossa he may just be experiencing some bad luck. His 2.94 shots per game is close to his average. His ice time is about the same as usual. His Corsi percentage of 60.58 is actually higher than normal.

What is down is shooting percentage. He’s scored two goals on 50 shots for a 4.0 shooting percentage. He’s only once been under 11 percent in his career and was at 12.4 percent last season.

“I had lots of good opportunities and lots of great chances, but you know obviously the puck is not going in the way I like, so try to work hard and stay positive,” Hossa said.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville thought an issue for Hossa has been his individual puck possession. Quenneville didn’t think Hossa was carrying the puck as much as usual.

“It doesn’t seem like he has the puck as much as he has in the past,” Quenneville said. “When he does have it it’s tough for opponents to get away from him. Just seems like his possession time, particularly in the offensive zone, is down. Usually he has it good things evolve on that. We got to have him have the puck a little bit more, be comfortable in that scoring area.”

Quenneville’s latest line changes may help Hossa do that. Hossa had been on a line with Ben Smith and Marcus Kruger in recent games. Smith and Kruger have offensive ability, but it’s not their strengths. Hossa was reunited with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews on the first line during practice Saturday. Saad, Toews and Hossa were together on a line throughout the shortened 2013 season.

“I think he has a great opportunity to be productive with those guys,” Quenneville said. “We need some offense from him as well, but we need that strong play from him that probably helps him with his offense as well.”

As much as Hossa wants to improve on his numbers, he’s been around long enough to know what works and what doesn’t to break out of a slump.

“I don't want to try to work too much,” Hossa said. “I know what to do and how to play the game. When you start a season with more goals, everything loosens up and you feel more relief and you play a more easier game. Obviously when things aren't going your way you start looking for some things like grab your stick a little bit tighter or those things.”