Bolland's return lifts Hawks to victory

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Bolland's return lifts Hawks to victory

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VIDEO: Coach Q on Bolland's impact
Bolland: Everyone knows their role

Dave Bolland isn't too thrilled about all the injuries he's had to deal with these past few seasons.

But when the Chicago Blackhawks center comes back from whatever injury he has, he certainly makes an impact.

Bolland was at it again on Saturday night, scoring two goals in his first regular-season game as the Blackhawks beat the Dallas Stars 5-2 in their home opener. For Bolland, the injury issues have been frustrating. The latest was an undisclosed upper-body injury that kept him out for more than a week.

But the returns suit him just fine.

"I wouldn't mind that, take a week off and just come back and play," Bolland said with a laugh. "No, it's never fun getting injured but coming back and playing tonight was great. As a team we all played great."

Andrew Brunette scored his first goal in a Blackhawks uniform. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp also scored. Corey Crawford stopped 19 of 21 for his first victory of the season.

The Blackhawks, as a team, are better with Bolland in the lineup. Just remember back to the spring, when Bolland's return with the Blackhawks down 3-0 to the Vancouver Canucks sparked a comeback and forced a Game 7. Bolland was once again with his spring linemates, Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik, against the Stars.

And as Bolland's group stymied the Stars' top line on Saturday, Bolland was finding his offense again. His first goal seemed like a harmless shot but it found the top left corner behind Andrew Raycroft.

"Yes, I meant to do that," Bolland joked. "I just saw (Stars defenseman Stephane) Robidas coming at me and I think two (Blackhawks) were going to the net. I just tried to get it through and to the net and was hoping for a rebound and got top corner instead."

The return of Bolland, who coach Joel Quenneville had pronounced "100 percent and ready to go" prior to this one, also gives the Blackhawks balance in their lineup again.

"Any player can feel a difference when Bolley's in," Toews said. "He's always doing a great job against the other team's top line. I think you realize how tough it is, especially when you lose a center man. (His return) just gives your team so much more depth up front. When you can play with energy and roll four lines, 5 on 5, you're going to keep your legs fresh."

The Blackhawks looked like they had more energy in front of their home crowd on Saturday. They were once again peppering a Stars goaltender (30 shots), this time Raycroft. They were quicker and pounced on opportunities more often than the night before.

"We found the back of the net a few more times but we just did some smarter things," Toews said. "We still had opportunities. We took smart shots and were chasing down rebounds. The more time you can keep the puck in your zone the more chances you're going to get."

Bolland will once again try to avoid the injuries. This one was a short one, considering his concussion and back problems of the past. The better he feels, the better the Blackhawks are.

"You wish you could go 82 games with no injury but it's a grind and it's a tough game and injuries are going to come," he said. "To battle back from the little ones and get back quick is key."

Briefly

Quenneville said Viktor Stalberg (left knee) is getting better fast. "I think we're close to getting him back out on the ice and we'll get a better indication (of his status) when he's back on the ice."

Jamal Mayers had his second tussle in a Blackhawks uniform, this time with former Blackhawks forward Jake Dowell.

Daniel Carcillo will be eligible to play in the Blackhawks' next game Thursday against Winnipeg.

Sami Lepisto and Rostislav Olesz were healthy scratches on Saturday night.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information

Blackhawks re-sign defenseman Ville Pokka to one-year deal

Blackhawks re-sign defenseman Ville Pokka to one-year deal

The Blackhawks signed Ville Pokka to a one-year contract on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old Pokka played in all 76 regular-season games for the Rockford IceHogs last season, recording six goals and 24 assists.

The Blackhawks’ defensive depth has already taken a hit this offseason, with Niklas Hjalmarsson traded to Arizona – Connor Murphy came here in the deal – and Trevor van Riemsdyk, selected by the Vegas Golden Knights, then traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. While the Blackhawks will probably explore free-agent options this offseason, Pokka could vie for an opportunity at training camp.

Blackhawks don’t extend qualifying offer to Dennis Rasmussen

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Blackhawks don’t extend qualifying offer to Dennis Rasmussen

Dennis Rasmussen was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Blackhawks, a source confirmed on Tuesday. Rasmussen will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Rasmussen was coming off a one-year deal worth $575,000. He was expected to be among those the Blackhawks extended qualifying offers – the deadline was Monday afternoon – but he was not.

The 26-year-old played 68 games for the Blackhawks this past season, recording four goals and four assists. He gave the Blackhawks some options, as he also played some wing and was part of the penalty kill. But he was a surprise healthy scratch more often than not as the regular season continued.

The Blackhawks will enter this season without Rasmussen and, if Marcus Kruger is traded, the team will have some holes to fill at center.