Talk Softly and Carry a Big Stick: How Duncan Keith and Dave Bolland Saved the Blackhawks

Matt Eichel@@mattyalloutSenior Writer IApril 25, 2011

Duncan Keith and Dave Bolland have been instrumental in the Blackhawks comeback from 3-0 games down against the Vancouver Canucks.
Duncan Keith and Dave Bolland have been instrumental in the Blackhawks comeback from 3-0 games down against the Vancouver Canucks.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

At the 12:14 mark of the second period of Game 3 with the Vancouver Canucks winning 2-1, unsuspecting Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook was blindsided by Canucks forward Raffi Torres.

Torres raised his hands in innocence but went to the box anyway.

At the 12:14 mark, momentum shifted in the Western Conference Quarterfinal between the bitter rivals.

Despite allowing a game-tying goal on the ensuing power play, the Canucks managed to pull out the 3-2 win to grab a stranglehold on the best-of-seven series.

Vancouver may have won the battle, but the aftereffects felt in the next game are what matters most to the Blackhawks. With his defense partner out of the lineup, Duncan Keith took the charge and showed why he is a leader on the Chicago blue line.

Only 5:37 into the first period, Keith lined up Torres and leveled him with a cross-check before taking out Jannik Hansen for good measure on his way to the penalty box. Keith's play, though reckless, seemed to energize his teammates.

To say the least, Duncan Keith can be credited with saving the Blackhawks series with his inspired play, leadership and never say die attitude.

Game 4 also happened to be the game the Blackhawks welcomed back forward Dave Bolland.

Keith and Bolland led the charge in a Game 4 romp, with Keith's second goal of the series holding up as the eventual game winner, only seconds after Brian Campbell put the Hawks up 2-1. His celebration energized his teammates as well.

Bolland was a one-man wrecking crew, netting a goal and three assists to help stave off elimination and playing a large part in the Sedins twins' combined minus-seven rating on the night.

For Keith, despite not registering a point in the Hawks' Game 6 overtime win, he has shown his worth on the Hawks blue line and in the locker room.

Humble and soft-spoken, Keith has shown his competitive fire and flashes of his nasty side, as well.

His outstanding play has energized the play of other Hawks, including Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane.

Hossa's play in overtime helped set up Ben Smith's overtime goal. Other Hawks, including Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell, have provided offense and have become part of a Blackhawks team beginning to remember why they won the Stanley Cup last spring.

Bolland's return has helped the Hawks become a more balanced team. With Frolik playing wing, a position he is more accustomed to, he has been able to become the offensive threat that Kris Versteeg was in last year's playoff run.

With both Keith and Bolland leading the Hawks with six points apiece (Keith four goals, two assists, minus two; Bolland two goals, four assists, plus six), look for these two to be instrumental in Game 7, where the stakes will be higher and the Hawks will count once again on the players who have led them back from the brink of elimination.