Depending on your expectations for him, Dave Bolland might be among the more frustrating players on the Blackhawks roster over the past couple of seasons.
Most just expect him to serve his role as a defensive center, typically skating on the third line, and it’s a role he has fulfilled as well as any similar player in the NHL. Look no further than any of his recent meetings with the Sedin twins for evidence of that.
On the other hand, some have expected Bolland to develop into a second line center and develop more of an offensive game. Those expectations have only been increased by the fact that the Hawks have lacked a true second line center. With Patrick Sharp going down with his “upper body” injury (aka his wrist), the Hawks needed someone to step up into the top six in the three or four weeks he’s expected to miss. Not many expected that to be Bolland, but on Thursday night, Bolly showed that he might just be capable of stepping up his game in Sharp’s absence.
Bolland skated next to All Star Marian Hossa, who seems to make everyone’s life easier these days. He’s having an incredible season and seems to have developed good chemistry with Bolland. That chemistry was obvious as Bolland scored a pair on Thursday to go along with an assist.
Don’t forget about his contributions on special teams. As has been pointed out, Bolland has 10 goals on either the power play or shorthanded, when the Hawks are on the penalty kill. Thanks to Jesse Rogers making himself useful, we now know that that is the higest percentage of special teams goes in relation to points in the entire NHL.
Bolland got off to a very strong start this season, playing with Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell. All three have disappeared since, which was no secret to Bolland, who was well aware of the fact that he needed to elevate his game.
That elevation is needed, particularly in the offensive end. With no Sharp, the Hawks are without their only player to score more than 20 goals this season not named Jonathan Toews. Bolland has goals in three consecutive games, including three in his past two. It’s a small sample space, but given the fact that Bolland was aware that he needed to pick up his play, hopefully it’s something we’ll see on a more regular basis from Bolland.
In a perfect world, Dave Bolland would raise his game to the point where he could hold down the middle on that second line, with Marcus Kruger taking over the role that many feel he is best suited for, as a defensive center. It will be interesting to see if that comes to fruition, or if Dave Bolland’s value really is limited to just being a defensive guy.