The insertion of big Brandon Bollig into Chicago’s lineup in place of speedy forward Viktor Stalberg had at least one reporter wondering if the Blackhawks may be falling into Boston’s trap before the 2013 Stanley Cup Final had even begun.
However, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t believe the winger switch for tonight’s Game 1 at the United Center means the ‘Hawks are somehow trying to prove they can stand up to the big, bad Bruins.
“All year long, that line, when they did play, had a purpose,” said Quenneville of the line of Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik. “We felt several shifts they always seemed to be on the offensive end at the end of the a shift.
“They seemed to control the play. You’re comfortable with him in your own end. Faceoffs as well. You have an overall game that we like. I think he can bring an element to our team.”
Bollig has registered 11 hits in three playoff games while averaging 7:03 of ice time. His last appearance was on May 5 in a first-round contest versus Minnesota.
In a possibly related story, how much the two teams engage in after-the-whistle scrums will be something to watch tonight. Both sides come into the series with struggling power plays, but one bad, retaliatory penalty could still be the difference between a win and a loss.
“Discipline is something we talk about all the time,” said Quenneville. “I think we’ve been pretty responsible all year staying out of the box. I think that’s something we’ll reinforce, like we said earlier, playing hard between whistles, knowing a small quantity of penalties, one or two, will be preferable.
“You never know how the games are going to be. You can’t control that. You want to make sure you’re playing hard and stay responsible. But let’s stay out of the box.”
Blackhawks lines, per NHL.com:
Patrick Sharp – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell – Michal Handzus – Patrick Kane
Brandon Saad – Dave Bolland – Andrew Shaw
Brandon Bollig – Marcus Kruger – Michael Frolik
Johnny Oduya – Niklas Hjalmarsson