The Chicago Blackhawks were hit with another bit of bad news as their second line center Dave Bolland will require back surgery and will be out for an undetermined amount of time.
It has been reported for a considerable amount of time that Bolland has been battling a back injury since last season but it was considered to be something he could play with.
With Bolland likely out for a while, several Blackhawks forwards will need to step up to fill the void.
We expect players like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg, and Patrick Sharp to produce offensively but it is players like Troy Brouwer, Andrew Ebbett, and Tomas Kopecky that will really need to step up their game in Bolland's absence.
Brouwer is coming off of a strong game Monday where he had three points including a goal on the power play goal and a power play assist.
Coming off of that game against the Los Angeles Kings, we see why the Blackhawks have been so patient in his development, he hits well and has good hands for a guy of his size.
Moving forward without Bolland, coach Quenneville will be leaning on Brouwer more and more on the power play and hopes he can make more plays like he did on Monday.
In my mind the heir apparent for Dave Bolland on the second line was Andrew Ebbett and last night against the Kings, Ebbett got some opportunities on the second line with Kris Versteeg and Patrick Kane.
Although I like the idea of Ebbett centering a second line flanked by either Kane or Versteeg, I do not like the idea of replicating the Montreal Canadiens "smurf line" with three players under six feet tall making up one line.
Ebbett has struggled to find chemistry with any linemates since being acquired by the Anaheim Ducks but did score his first goal last night on a lucky bounce and really has done nothing to detract from his ice time with the Blackhawks.
Hopefully, the goal off of Ebbett's arm will open the flood gates for him as he will need to play like he did last season with the Ducks to justify him getting top nine minutes with the Blackhawks and staying with the team when Bolland returns.
The final player who must continue his strong play, if not take it to another level, is utility forward Tomas Kopecky.
Kopecky has played everywhere in the Blackhawks from the second line center to the fourth line right wing to power play screen specialist and has played admirably.
Although Kopecky is not a strong scoring threat on the ice but his defensive awareness and ability to be a agitator makes him valuable in the absence of Bolland who is a good two way centerman.
If the likes of Brouwer and Ebbett can step up on the offensive side of the ice and Kopecky can step up on the defensive side of the ice, the Blackhawks can likely hedge the loss of Bolland.
But a player like Bolland is hard to come by and maybe the only way to replace him is to possibly bring in another center.
Who knows, but I hope Bolland has a speedy recovery and can return to the Blackhawks healthy later in the season.
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