ST. LOUIS - The question was put straight to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Tuesday morning: Has Marian Hossa had a good season?
Hossa took 22 goals and 22 assists into the game against the Blues, which was his 50th since returning from shoulder surgery in late November.
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Blackhawks game day
Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center, 7 p.m. Wednesday
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: WGN 720-AM
What to watch: The Hawks have lost 11 of their last 13 games in Minnesota, including the 6-5 loss in a shootout Jan. 9, when they blew a 5-1 third-period lead. The Wild is 25-10-3 at home. Former Hawks defenseman Cam Barker his missed the last two games with an ankle injury.
Season series: Hawks lead 2-0-1.
Next: New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center, 6 p.m. Friday.
That's a 30-something goal pace. Not bad, but Hossa certainly hasn't been dazzling after signing that franchise record 12-year, $62.8 million contract as a free agent that has him making $7.5 million this year.
Hossa is a superb two-way player, excellent with the puck, but as a pure goal scorer he might have fallen a tad below expectations. Perhaps part of the problem has been the inability of the Hawks to settle on a center to play with their prized free agent.
Hossa has skated on and off with Jonathan Toews, although he was back with the captain for Tuesday's game. Dave Bolland was hurt most of the year, but with Hossa there hasn't been the same chemistry as there was with Bolland and Martin Havlat.
Quenneville believes missing the first 22 games because of his shoulder hurt Hossa in the long run.
"I think recently he's been all right," Quenneville said. "Maybe his production is not there, but I don't mind his all-around game. Maybe on a new line he can produce at a higher rate."
So has it been a good year for Hossa?
"It's tough; he missed a significant part of the year and I don't know too many players where that's going to be their signature year coming off that type of an injury," Quenneville said. "I like what he brings to our team. I like his consistency in games, the way he plays overall. He brings a lot to our team. We're happy with his contributions."
The bottom line is this: Hossa's season will be judged on how he performs in the playoffs, if he scores the big goals at critical times like $7 million players are supposed to do.
The Hawks signed Hossa to help them win a Stanley Cup so in a few weeks we'll know if he's had a good season or not.
If the skate fits
It should be pointed out that Duncan Keith reluctantly talked about the problem he is having with the fit and feel of his skates when approached by reporters on Monday.
Neither a complainer nor an excuse maker, Keith is a guy who never dodges a question, so when he was asked about the problem with his skates he admitted there is one.
The company that manufactures Keith's skates couldn't have been happy to read the papers on Tuesday.
Duncan Keith, Mike Green or Drew Doughty for the Norris Trophy.
Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby for the Hart Trophy as MVP.
Jimmy Howard, Matt Duchene or Tyler Myers for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.
The Hawks likely won't know their first-round playoff opponent until the final day of the season. It could be Nashville, Detroit, Los Angeles, Colorado or Calgary.
If you're the Hawks, you've got to be pulling for either the Avs or Flames at this point.
Around the rinks
• The Blue Jackets don't believe they're far from being a playoff team again and are ready to spend money this summer. Word is they'd love to get a crack at Patrick Sharp if the Hawks decide to deal the veteran winger.
• Poor Davis Booth, the Panthers forward who is out for the season after suffering his second serious concussion, this one from a hit to the head by Montreal's Jaroslav Spacek.
Booth missed 45 games earlier this season after being blindsided by Philadelphia's Mike Richards.
• Various reports say the Penguins want to host Washington in the next Winter Classic. Based on the league's love affair with Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, expect it to happen.
• The NHL, which owns the Coyotes, denied a report in the Arizona Business Daily saying there was a deal in place to move the club back to Winnipeg.
Ex-Hawk of the week
Calgary's Rene Bourque continues to prove the Hawks misjudged his talent. Bourque has 24 goals and 54 points for the Flames with 4 goals on the power play, 4 short-handed and 5 of them game winners.
Here are the five best free agent signings of last summer.
1. Craig Anderson, Avalanche: He's the reason Colorado is in a playoff spot with 36 wins, a .919 save percentage and 7 shutouts.
2. Marian Gaborik, Rangers: With 39 goals before Tuesday's games, if the Rangers miss the playoffs it won't be his fault.
3. Mikael Samuelsson, Canucks: The former Red Wing has scored 30 goals for his new team.
4. Mike Cammalleri, Canadiens: Despite a knee injury, he still has 26 goals in 59 games.
5. Dwayne Roloson, Islanders: Think the Hawks wish they had trade deadline day to do over now?