Welcome to yet another week of "Ask A Panelist"! As the weeks continue to shed away, bringing a team closer and closer to the holy grail of hockey, it comes as no surprise that this weeks question is in regards to the Stanley Cup Finals matchup between Detroit and Pittsburgh. Chris from Yucca Valley, CA asked;
"I was looking for him but it seems he has disappeared....why has Marian Hossa faded away in this series like Evgeni Malkin did against Philly?"I took a lot of heat from numerous people at the trade deadline when I suggested that regardless of which team Marian Hossa goes to, we will see him fail at some point this post-season. After he came up with decent numbers against Ottawa and New York, I can not help but notice his steady decline in quality scoring chances, as well as overall play since that time. It is very easy for me to suggest that the entire Pittsburgh roster has disappeared against Detroit, but I do not think I need to. There are three main players who need to come to play every game for that team, and their combined salaries of just under 20 million (yes, I am including Crosby's soon to be salary) only exemplify what it costs for them to produce.
Now, we all know that based on many previous accounts, Marian Hossa has been known to disappear when the going got tough, and many people believed that while in Ottawa, it was a matter of the media pressing, as well as being under the spotlight in terms of 'the' superstar. While that role decreased in Atlanta, it has become almost non-existent as a rental player in Pittsburgh, and he should thrive because of it. So yeah, we saw him kick some butt during series one and two, and sure, he was well on his way to displaying a true talent in the playoffs, but as I have mentioned in the past, he has found himself stuck in a battle of excellent players, and he once again refuses to rise to the challenge.
Two games so far. forty minutes of ice time, five shots on net, 3 missed shots, and a -1. Those are his stats, and to be quite honest, the only surprise I have had this year regarding him, was that he actually had a brief moment of success at the start of the playoffs. I will not ignore that Detroit is a fantastic team, and that absolutely works into my concept of Hossa feeling the grip of difficulty. This series has really pressed Pittsburgh, unlike the free pass from Ottawa (yeah, that does hurt) and the snore fest in New York. While the Philly series started to make Pittsburgh work much harder, they still got the advantage because of the injury bug slamming into the Flyers.
I do think Pittsburgh deserves to be where they are right now, but I am not surprised Hossa has deflated in this series. If Crosby and Malkin can not get inside the slot for scoring chances, you can not expect that team to survive in a seven game series.
Thanks again for the question Chris. Come back next week, and we may already have a Cup winner to talk about!