The Chicago Blackhawks got some encouraging news Friday after the team's morning skate in Detroit concerning injured center Dave Bolland, who has missed a month of action due to a concussion suffered March 9th in Tampa.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville reported to the press that Bolland has made significant progress from the concussion, which occurred when Pavel Kubina elbowed the 'Hawks center in the back of the head.
"He could be on the ice today back home," said Quenneville. "He's really progressed the last couple of days."
Great news. Will it make a difference? It depends on how close Bolland is to handling game conditions.
Resuming skating is encouraging, but don't expect him to dramatically appear at Joe Louis Arena tonight a la Patrick Sharp. Sharp, who felt sufficiently healed from his knee injury, skated after working out on his own for the first time since he left the lineup.
I wouldn't count on Bolland going that route.
I would find it difficult to believe that the 'Hawks are going to be anything but cautious in this case. With additional recovery time available between Chicago's last game Saturday and the start of the playoffs, rushing Bolland back into action would be foolish at best. It certainly would be irresponsible.
At least the news out of the 'Hawks camp keeps the door open for Bolland's return for the playoffs.
If the Hawks find themselves in the playoffs, that is.
There are four playoff spots still up for grabs. Chicago could wind up as high as the fourth seed when the weekend is over. They could also wind up cleaning out their lockers.
The Hawks can take care of their business, sweep Detroit in the final two games and await their first-round opponent. Three points gets them in for certain. Anything less and they need help from outside forces.
The Blackhawks have won two games in Detroit this season, the last being the 3-2 overtime triumph March 28th. Getting a point in this game allows Chicago to retain control of their own destiny.
Will it be Ben Smith again tonight in place of Marcus Kruger? Or is another 'Hawk sitting this game out?
Only two biggest games of the season left.