A major strength of the Chicago Blackhawks all season has been their offensive depth, but one small weakness that they have suffered from most of the season is their weakness down the middle.
The Blackhawks do have four good defensive centers in Colin Fraser, John Madden, Jonathan Toews, and Dave Bolland. However, offensively the only player who has been productive this season is Toews.
Toews scored 68 points during the regular season, whereas Bolland, Fraser, and Madden were only able to muster 58 points combined.
Now Madden and Fraser are not known for their scoring touch, but the Blackhawks' second-line center Bolland is another story.
Last season Bolland posted a career high in points with 47 and a plus-19 rating. With that solid season, Bolland also earned himself a hefty raise in the offseason and a lot more expectations.
This season, however, Bolland would not have as much success.
Bolland was limited to only 39 games and 16 points in the 2009-2010 regular season because of a back injury and has struggled trying to get back to his form from the previous season.
Even though Bolland has struggled scoring this season, he has shown a great amount of effort and is still a solid contributor on the defensive end of the ice.
During last year's playoffs, the Blackhawks had a healthy Dave Bolland, who was a major contributor offensively on a line with Martin Havlat and Andrew Ladd, as well as an important penalty killer.
Bolland's playoff stats support how much he was relied on during last season's playoffs, scoring 12 points, which was fourth among the Blackhawks, and scoring the Hawks' lone short-handed goal.
This season the Blackhawks will need another steady contribution from Bolland, as he will be the "second-line" center alongside Hawks star Patrick Kane and Troy Brouwer.
Yes, Bolland doesn't seem to be the same since the surgery on his back, but there will be plenty of pressure on him to produce.
Although it might not be fair that Bolland will be under a microscope, it will be interesting to see how he responds to such a challenge, and it could possibly be just the thing that lights a fire under Bolland and drives him to another solid playoff performance.