Chicago Blackhawks welcome Dave Bolland to the spotlight.

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Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals was a statement game for the Chicago Blackhawks. It showcased Antti Niemi as the true star of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It featured Jonathan Toews setting a new franchise record for a point in twelve straight playoff games. It proved that the Blackhawks were the better team in the series and it allowed the Hawks to put the series in vice grips and start tightening the screws. However, and possibly most importantly, it thrust Dave Bolland into the spotlight as a guy who can demoralize the San Jose Sharks in a myriad of ways.

by Peter Christian

Bolland’s Game 3 stat line was impressive for a 3rd line center in any game (1 G, 1 A, 6 PIM) but considering he did that largely against the Sharks’ top line and the fact he’s been tasked to shadow Joe Thornton this series, it’s pretty remarkable. Bolland’s teammates call him “The Rat” and he has been just as annoying as that moniker to Thornton in the Western Conference Finals as Joe has only one assist and a -2 rating for the series. But it wasn’t Bolland’s excellent defense that got people’s attention in Game 3.

Bolland is no stranger to the score sheet as he notched 47 points for the Blackhawks last season, but his two way performance in Friday night’s game was a definite surprise. With the game tied at one late in the third period, Bolland stepped out of the penalty box, and shortly thereafter, took a pass from Toews for a one on zero breakaway that he turned into a go ahead goal. That was a big opportunity for Bolland and he made the most of it. He wasn’t done however.

In overtime, Bolland’s pass to Dustin Byfuglien in front of the net for the game winner was pure beauty. Sure the Sharks failed by not having a man on Byfuglien, but it was Bolland’s ability to sneak that puck from behind the net that left Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabakov clueless and gave Buff a wide open net to bury the puck.  Nabakov had no idea where that puck was and didn’t know that Byfuglien even had made the shot until it was already past him. That doesn’t happen without Bolland’s nifty pass.

Looking ahead for Bolland, he still has at least one more game of pestering Joe Thornton and the rest of the Sharks top line. He’s not the type of player to sit back and rest on what he’s done so far. His confidence is on the rise and so is his team’s confidence in him. After the game, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Dustin Byfuglien all commented on his recognition of Byfuglien being left alone and making a good play from behind the net to get Dustin the puck.

Coach Joel Quenneville summed it up nicely, “Great play to Buff in overtime. Still think he’s effective in a lot of ways.  But he’s really picked up his game come the playoffs.  You know, kind of the way he was all last year. We’re very happy and pleased with his contribution and a couple huge plays tonight.”

The Blackhawks should be very happy. They’ve got a 3-0 series lead, they’ve got the hottest goaltender in the playoffs and the post season scoring leader is their captain. Throw in what Dave Bolland is doing from the 3rd line and a certain famous trophy might be making it’s way to Madison Street very soon.

Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    nicely done Peter, I will need you writeup game 4 as well. but I’ll be back in town Mon night. I though they looked like stanley cup champs in game 2, and certtainly looked like final participants last night.

    and with a lower seed coming out of the east, I like our chances a lot next round.

  2. ?uperbe post : une foiis dde plus

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