Chicago Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland isn't coming to antagonize the Minnestoa Wild. Bolland's lock down defense that has been his calling card in recent postseasons cannot be counted on to play a factor in the 'Hawks Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Sure, Bolland may return to action from a lower-body injury. We should just stop hoping for the Rat to hit the ice and make an impact on this series.
Bolland, along with goalie Ray Emery, will be unavailable for Game 2 Friday night after both players missed the series opener. Bolland has missed much of the latter stages of the regular season with injuries. It would be fair to speculate that Bolland is going to be hampered by some malady for a good portion of the playoffs.
Since Bolland left Chicago's April 1 game against Nashville, he has played in just six of the team's last 14 games. That includes his cameo in Vancouver April 22 that saw him leave with what is believed to be a groin injury. The Hockey News currently lists the injury as such.
Bolland missed the last four games with the injury. According to coach Joel Quenneville, Bolland is making progress. However, he was not ready for the ice Thursday, as evidenced by his absence from practice. Quenneville said, per ESPN Chicago:
"(Bolland) didn't skate, but he's real close to getting on the ice. ..."
Bolland, along with Emery, could make the trip to Minnesota for the third and fourth games of the series. The question that needs to be asked is whether Bolland is needed in his current condition.
From April 1 on, Bolland has no points in parts of seven games. He is a minus-five in those contests and failed to post a positive skater rating in any of those games.
For Bolland to be effective, even if he concentrates on his defensive duties, he must be healthy. It doesn't look like that's the case.
Michal Handzus isn't the player Bolland can be at 100 percent, but he is a veteran who had been getting the job done between Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp. If holding Bolland out of the Minnesota series gives him the luxury of approaching a clean bill of health, it's something the organization should strongly consider.
Even minus Bolland's defensive prowess, Chicago has the weaponry to handle the Wild. Sending a hampered, ineffective Bolland into battle isn't going to make a difference in this series. Bolland's skills may be welcome down the road. However, that time probably isn't now.