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Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Bolland ready to play vs. Blues

By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com

Dave Bolland was centering the second line for the Chicago Blackhawks during practice on Tuesday, and he's ready to return to game action.

Bolland, who hasn't played since Nov. 5 while recovering from back surgery, is expected to play Wednesday at the United Center against the St. Louis Blues.

"Everything is good, 100 percent," Bolland said after practice. "Everything is ready to go. I'm happy. I hate watching."

Marian Hossa was on Bolland's right wing while Patrick Sharp moved from center to right wing.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Bolland won't start Wednesday with Hossa and Sharp. It's more than likely Bolland will start on the fourth line.

"We'll let [Bolland] work his way up to significant minutes, and his role will probably progress as he gets game shape," Quenneville said. "He gives us more options as he progresses.

"Down the road you like the options that he does present. It's good to see him back."

Andrew Ladd missed practice with a lower body injury but is expected to play. That means someone is coming out of the lineup for Bolland.

"We welcome that [tough decisions]," Quenneville said. "At the same time, it's not easy for the guys that have to watch or work themselves back into the lineup. We'll see how this all plays out.

"We haven't had many tough decisions all year up front."

Quenneville indicated the decision was more about numbers than who isn't playing well.

"We'll sort it out and make sure we keep everybody fresh at the same time," Quenneville declared.

There also will be a new face in net as Antti Niemi will start against the Blues.

"He hasn't played in a while," Quennville said. "He had a tough period in Vancouver, so it's a chance for him to get back in the net."

Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com.