Dave Bolland hasn’t had his typical postseason. There have been spots where he’s been good, where he’s gotten under the opponent’s skin, but he hadn’t had that big, standout game.
He had it on Wednesday night.
Bolland had a goal and an assist -- and two timely swings near goaltender Corey Crawford’s net -- in the Blackhawks’ 4-3 victory against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. Bolland’s long been known as the team’s checking-line center; he did it with Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger the past few games on the fourth line and was back at his third-line center spot on Wednesday. But it was his offensive and very-close-call defensive game that stood out in Game 1.
“Bolley, he started in the Detroit series. He's progressively gotten better every game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You can just see him have more pace to his game, steadily getting better.”
Bolland’s first goal of this postseason, off a Bruins turnover and a nice feed from Andrew Shaw, came two minutes after the Bruins took a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead. The winning goal that went off his stick before deflecting off Shaw, he said, was about being in the right place at the right time.
“You have those chances that things could bounce and not go in, but in triple overtime it’s just luck,” he said. “If you’re in front of the net and the puck bounces off you, it could go in. That one went in.”
But Bolland’s work was just as evident on the other side, too. On several occasions the Bruins had Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford making a series of quick saves. Twice Bolland was there, knocking the puck away from the goal line and keeping the Blackhawks alive.
“The thing about Bolley is you always see him step up in big games,” said Patrick Kane, who has the propensity to do the same. “He had a huge goal to make it 3-2. Obviously he helped out on the winner, too. We've been accustomed to him showing up in those big games and it was good to see, for sure.”
Bolland may not have had as many great big-game performances this postseason as he has in the past. It’s been another season of working through injuries, the latest being a groin issue that kept him out through the first-round series against Minnesota. But when he has games like he did on Wednesday, it’s a reminder of what he can do on the big stage.