Pittsburgh's forgotten scorer
Crosby was the NHL's MVP last season. Malkin is one of three finalists for MVP this season.
Marian Hossa, 29, is a player who doesn't draw much notice, standing near Crosby and Malkin, but the Penguins' mid-season addition has played a significant role in Pittsburgh's run through the playoffs.
"He's been huge for us," said Pittsburgh third-line center Jordan Staal. "It's great to have another guy who's obviously great offensively, but also another guy who's a great defensive player as well. He helps in both zones. And he works so hard too. He's just been an unbelievable addition to our team."
Quick quiz … Who leads the Penguins in playoff plus-minus? Hossa.
Who leads the Penguins in playoff goals? Hossa and Malkin with nine apiece.
Who leads the Penguins in playoff shots on goal? Hossa.
Add in that Hossa is second on the team in takeaways, fifth among Penguin forwards in hits and has logged more ice time than Crosby and you've got the profile of an effective player.
"He's a great player," said Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski. "He's a player that can beat people 1-on-1. He's got great speed. Very strong in the corners. Obviously great release on his shot. He's somebody you have to watch out for, for sure. He gives that line (Hossa, Crosby and Pascal Dupuis) a different look. Crosby didn't have someone like that the past couple of years."
Red Wing defenseman Andreas Lilja was a teammate of Hossa's for two months in Sweden during the lockout season of 2004-05. Lilja went back to play for his old club team, Mora. Hossa headed north to play with Mora after his season with Trencin of the Slovak elite league was done.
On a team that already had Dan Cleary, Shawn Horcoff, Ladislav Nagy and Marian's brother, Marcel Hossa, Marian Hossa was a standout, scoring 18 goals and 32 points in just 24 games. Horcoff led Mora in both categories with 19 goals and 46 points, but needed 50 games to reach those totals.
"He's one of the fastest skaters I ever saw," said Lilja. "He was unreal. He's an unbelievable player. He's really hard to read because he never moves his hands on his stick. He has a high grip. He shoots and he dribbles from the same spot."
After his time with Mora, Hossa was traded from Ottawa to Atlanta when the NHL started back up. On Feb. 27, in the midst of his third season with the Thrashers, Hossa became the biggest name to be traded on the NHL's trade deadline day, going to Pittsburgh with Dupuis for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a first-round draft pick this summer.
"There's always an adjustment period for a new guy coming to a new team obviously," said Hossa. "It takes a little bit to get comfortable on the ice. The guys welcomed me very nice. But still on the ice is a little different. You've got a new style of hockey, new coaches, so everything's a little different. It takes a little while to adjust."
It was a risky move for the Penguins because Hossa could become an unrestricted free agent this summer. But it's one that has been paying off for them with playoff success.
Hossa has nine goals and 21 points in 17 playoff games, entering tonight's Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final (8 p.m., NBC).
Hossa has been a star since being drafted by Ottawa in 1997 12th overall -- one pick ahead of Cleary going to the Chicago Blackhawks. Hossa has two 40-goal seasons to his credit and has 299 goals in 701 career regular-season games.
"He's so fast, explosive," said Cleary. "His straight-away speed is amazing. He's a natural goal-scorer. That's what I saw him as … He's a guy you've got to be keying on."