2010 Stanley Cup finals: Dave Bolland's 'checking line' makes a huge impact for Chicago

1 Comment

bollandshg.jpgThe one thing that separates the Chicago Blackhawks from the rest of the league – aside from that horrible, horrible, horrible “Chelsea Dagger” goal song – is their slap-you-in-the-face depth. Say what you will about Brian Campbell, you’re doing pretty well when he’s (maybe) your third best blueliner. After you get past the Toews and Kanes, there’s the Hossas, Byfugliens and Sharps.

But in Game 1, the team went even deeper down their depth chart to their so-called “checking line” to blow through the Flyers defense in a sloppy but entertaining affair. NHL.com spotlights that dominant Dave Bolland, Kris Versteeg and Andrew Ladd/Tomas Kopecky combo.

“You can call them a checking line,” Hawks center Patrick Sharp said, “but they’ve all got the ability to put the puck in the net, and that’s what makes them so dangerous.”

Their skill makes them different. It also makes them effective.

The standout player is Dave Bolland – and not just because he’s been scoring shorthanded goals like hot cakes lately. I have to admit, when the Blackhawks signed Bolland last summer, I thought it was yet another example of the team’s inability to part with a quality (but replaceable) player amid growing salary cap worries. Instead, he’s been one of the team’s most indispensable players, profoundly frustrating the likes of Joe Thornton and Daniel Sedin like few before him with a combination of pest-like behavior and lock-on defense. Mark Spector had a great column on Bolland at Sportsnet.ca.

He not only neutralized Flyers No. 1 centre Mike Richards in Game 1, but Bolland’s shorthanded breakaway goal was part of a two-point, plus-3 night. Richards, in 22:44 of ice time, had no points, just three shots on goal, and was minus-2.

“I just play tough on him. Everyone hates when … you’re always around them, always in their skates, hitting their sticks, doing little things,” Boland said. “A lot of guys hate it. Everyone hates it, really.”

Let’s face it: Everyone hates HIM, really.

If your job is to shut down the opposing team’s star players, it’s usually a good sign if they hate you. That means you are impeding – perhaps closing down – their game and possibly getting in their head. Frustration leads to penalties, turnovers and maybe even glory.

The checkers might not get many Conn Smythe votes, but the Blackhawks aren’t winning the Cup on the strength of Jonathan Toews and other stars alone. Their supporting role players have made a big impact in every series … even when they’re not enraging Swedish ginger twins.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One
Leave a comment

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.