DETROIT -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville did it again.
"[Bolland] is progressing at a different pace than we saw before, which is encouraging," Quenneville said after Friday morning's skate-around. "He could be on the ice today [Friday] back home. He's really progressed the last couple of days."
That gulp you heard came from Vancouver, or was it San Jose?
Bolland was instrumental in defeating the Canucks and Sharks last postseason, and if the Hawks make the playoffs they'll need Bolland's defensive prowess again.
But first things first. The Hawks need to earn at least three points against the Detroit Red Wings over the next two games or Bolland might not have a season to return to next week.
"We have to at least get one point tonight," defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "Anything less than that would be a failure today."
But if the Hawks get some help from Colorado, which plays Dallas again, the Hawks could back their way in. The Stars beat the Avalanche on Thursday night in Texas. They square off in Denver on Friday.
"That team [Colorado] hasn't helped us all year," Hjalmarsson said. "They beat us a couple times at the beginning when they were playing really good and now can't beat anyone we need them to beat. It's up to us."
Smith Stepping In
You never know when a player is going to step up, but this is as unlikely a scenario as you could imagine. Only because Troy Brouwer went down two games ago with a shoulder injury is Ben Smith even on the Hawks. He was recalled Wednesday and inserted in the lineup over Marcus Kruger and John Scott. Then he found himself on the ice in the last minute of a tie game.
"The guys were saying ‘Let's get the point, get the point,' Smith explained on Friday. "You just have to be confident in what you do. You work hard your whole life to be in those situations."
So why did Quenneville put a rookie on the ice in the most crucial of moments with a playoff spot hanging in the balance?
"We always think his positioning is in the right spot," Quenneville said. "I think his instincts are high end. I think as the game grew he got a little bit more responsibility. You could see him make plays and defensively he's usually in the right spot."
"You have to trust your instincts and trust yourself," he said. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous."
The Hawks practiced with the following line combinations Friday morning. It's how they basically ended last game:
Ben Smith/Michael Frolik/Patrick Kane
Barring a last minute change, Marcus Kruger will sit out his second straight game. Joel Quenneville said he likes what he sees in the young Swede but an adjustment to the NHL and Hawks' style is needed.
"More of a pressure game we like to play," Quenneville explained. "He'll grasp that. We still like everything he does."
Ryan Johnson will play in his 700th career game.