Apr 12, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) moves the puck in against Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (13) and goalie Jimmy Howard (35) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
It’s easy to forget about the key “role” players on an NHL team, especially the when that team is the Chicago Blackhawks, a team stocked full of superstar caliber talent as well as any team in the league. However, the NHL is a league that requires more than just superstar talent to make a team a championship team. The NHL is a league that requires a supporting cast for it’s stars, and Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook will rely on their supporting cast that includes Andrew Shaw, Michael Frolik, and Dave Bolland, to end up with Lord Stanley’s Cup come June.
The most important of the supposrting cast would have to be Dave Bolland. Hawks fans will remember how Bolland has seemingly come to life in the playoffs the past several seasons, regardless of how he played during the regular season. Bolland has played an integral role as the center on the checking line that has shut down lines featuring the likes of(most famously) Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, as well as Joe Thornton. “The Rat” will need to regain his health before he is able play with the nerves of Zach Parise‘s top line for the Minnesota Wild. The Blackhawks will face a steep challenge in defeating the Wild if they are to do so without Bolland’s presence.
Andrew Shaw was very much missed during the chunk of last year’s playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes while he was serving a suspension. Shaw has a knack for scoring the “dirty” goals, as opposed to the highlight reel goals that Hawks fans are accustomed to seeing from Patrick Kane, and the rest of the stars. Dirty goals from guys like Shaw can have a demoralizing, back-breaking effect on an opposing team. Opposing teams expect the stars to light the lamp, but it’s a heartbreaking disappointment to a team when they allow a goal to a player like Andrew Shaw, a player who can also play physical and adds an edge of toughness to his game.
Enough can’t be said about the stellar play from Michael Frolik, this season. One of the Blackhawks greatest strengths this season has been their stingy Penalty Kill, and Michael Frolik has arguably been the Hawks most effective Penalty Killer this season. If the Hawks PK unit can continue it’s stinginess into the Post Season, they will be at a tremendous advantage against most teams. It’s hard to imagine the PK unit being anywhere near the success level that it reached this season, without the help of Michael Frolik.
Unlike the NBA, a league that is hopelessly dependant on superstar talent to lead a team to glory, the NHL is a two-way sport that requires superstar talent as well as the more workman like players, to bring home trophys, and the Blackhawks are very much a two-team in those regards.