CHICAGO -- Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland got the message loud and clear: he needed to play better.
Since midseason, individual meetings with the coaches during which his minus rating was stressed, Bolland has taken off. He scored twice and assisted once in a Hawks' 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
It doesn’t hurt to be paired with Marian Hossa, as Bolland has been the past two games.
“You look around, I think everyone’s game seems to rise when you’ve got a chance to play with Hossa,” coach Joel Quenneville said afterwards.
But make no mistake, Bolland’s stellar game involved more than just producing points. After all, none came during five-on-five play which is where his line has been weak. Not on Thursday. Not with Hossa.
“Bolland’s line was dangerous in a lot of ways tonight, and definitely had more puck possession than we’ve seen,” Quenneville said.
It was just a couple days earlier, after practice, Quenneville said he wanted to see Bolland’s line play more “in the offensive zone and less in the defensive zone.” It sounds like the Hawks center got the message loud and clear.
Everyone knows Bolland’s role come the postseason. He’ll be asked to shut down the opposition’s top lines and chip in a few goals along the way. Maybe it was time to get a head start.
“We had our meetings,” Bolland said. “Things weren’t rolling. I think for ourselves it was just staying positive.”
As for that offense, Bolland has been a special teams machine. Coming into the game seven of his 10 goals were scored on the power play or shorthanded. That’s the highest percentage for any one player in the league, according to ESPN Stats and Information. He added to it with another power play goal Thursday. And then came the helper with the man advantage and then empty net score.
“There’s times, when you go through your 82-game season, with a few bumps in the road,” Bolland said. “I think right now I can see it just coming back.”
For him and his team.