Dave Bolland capped off the best 17 seconds in Chicago Blackhawks history on Monday night, scoring the latest regulation cup-winning goal in NHL history, bringing the Stanley Cup back to the Windy City for the second time in four seasons.
Bolland is famous throughout Chicago for stepping up his game come playoff time, and this year turned out to be no different. His lore started in the Blackhawks’ previous Cup run, where he earned the nickname ‘the rat’ for pestering opposing players, notably San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton to no end.
However, #36 has came under fire many times since that run, with Blackhawks fans calling for a trade, in order to get a stronger faceoff player, and someone who is more effective in the regular season. Stan Bowman kept ‘the rat’ around, and Bolland scored the biggest goal for the ‘Hawks since Patrick Kane Wins The Conn Smythe Trophy” href=”http://blackhawkup.com/2013/06/24/chicago-blackhawks-patrick-kane-wins-the-conn-smythe-trophy/” target=”_blank”>Conn Smythe winner Patrick Kane’s overtime Cup-winner in 2010.
Bolland did have a ho-hum regular season amidst the Blackhawks’ success, losing over half of his faceoffs, and recording a disappointing 14 points, with a plus-minus rating of -7. His inability to win big draws prompted the trade deadline deal for center Michal Handzus, to fill the void on the second line, as Bolland moved down to the third unit. His play during the shortened regular season left Blackhawks fans wondering if he would even contribute in the playoffs.
That question is sure answered now. Bolland turned his game up a notch come post-season,and returned to annoying, pesky, irritating player that Blackhawks fans love. The third line turned out to be a much better fit for Bolland, and it showed, as the Hawks’ depth started performing much like it had during the regular season. Bolland had a so-so first round, but really got the playoff wheels turning in round two against Detroit, where his energy was present throughout the Blackhawks’ comeback from the 3-1 deficit they faced, and he delivered a big hit forcing a turnover that Brent Seabrook picked up and buried to send the Blackhawks to the Conference Final. Bolland reworked some of his magic against the Kings in that series, always on the back of key players such as Jeff Carter and Dustin Brown, and getting in the face of star goalie Jonathan Quick. Bolland kept that mentality going once the Hawks made it to the Stanley Cup Final, and he provided the assist on Andrew Shaw‘s Game One overtime winner, getting a deflection off of Michal Roszival’s shot before it bounced off Shaw and in. He was right in the thick of things when it came to physicality, and he had energy at all times during the final series, topping it all off with the Cup-winning goal.
Dave Bolland might not have lived up to expectations in the regular season, but he showed up when it mattered, and on hockey’s biggest stage, he was there, delivering the final goal of the 2013 NHL season, and the only one the Blackhawks needed.
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