Brandon Bollig was finally going to get that first regular-season NHL goal. He was right there, right on net.
And, alas, with a right-foot kick.
But Bollig took it in stride, even joking about it on twitter: “Oops. Guess those days of childhood soccer didn't pay off after all.”
“Plenty of people (on Twitter) were telling me I’m not allowed to kick it in, which I understand. I’ve been playing the game a long time,” Bollig said with a wry smile. “If you can’t have fun with it, you probably don’t play the game. I had some good reaction to that tweet, so it’s good to see.”
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Bollig’s gotten good reaction for his game lately, too, good goals or nixed goals be damned. The 6-foot-2, 223-pound Bollig still knows his role with the Blackhawks is to be physical; but he and his fellow fourth liners Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger have been playing solid minutes, especially on this latest road trip.
“He had a great trip. That line did all four games,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They were very useful. A lot of times against teams’ top lines, they ended up in the offensive zone a lot of their shifts. Bollig gives us some toughness, some presence. Technically, he plays a team game to a tee. He’s gotten more time more based on how he’s played.”
Teammates joked with Bollig on his search for regular-season goal No. 1 – he scored one against the Phoenix Coyotes in last spring’s playoffs – but added that he’s doing all the right things.
“I heard (New Jersey goaltender) Marty Brodeur has more goals than him this year,” Andrew Shaw said. “But seriously, if he keeps going to the net like that, eventually they’ll start going in. He’s been playing great hockey. So we’re just letting him know, keep doing what you’re doing and great things will come from it.”
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The increased ice time is a start. Bollig, who was in the 10-13 minute range in the Blackhawks’ last two road games, said it helps build confidence.
“It definitely helps you stay engaged in the game,” he said. “It’s easier to stay rolling than sitting for a while like some fourth lines do. It’s nice to be in that role and get the extra minutes. The better you play, the more you play and the more responsibility you get.”
And as for that goal this season, he’ll probably get that, too.
“I sure hope so,” Bollig said. “I’ve had some chances lately. Hopefully one of them will pop in.”