When Dave Bolland returned to the Blackhawks' lineup for Game 4 after missing five weeks because of a concussion and scored 4 points, it was Canucks goalie Robert Luongo who dismissed the center's ability to impact the series.
Call it another misplay on Luongo's part because Bolland has been the biggest reason why the Hawks have come back from an 0-3 hole to force Tuesday night's Game 7 at Rogers Arena.
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Bolland is tied for the Hawks' scoring lead with 6 points (in just three games) and has been his usual annoying self playing against Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
"Bolland's return has definitely given us a presence in the middle," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "His possession with the puck and his timing of playing offense and defense and knowing when to get off the ice makes that line click."
Bolland had another difference-making night in Game 6 with a goal, an assist and a huge hit on Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis that led to Bryan Bickell's goal.
Bolland remembered the head shot he took from Hamhuis in Game 5 when he lined up the defenseman for the hit.
"Oh, yeah, I knew," Bolland said. "I think I knew from the blue line in. I thought it felt better than a goal."
This is the third year in a row that Bolland has tormented the Canucks in the playoffs, putting him right near the top of the list with Patrick Kane as the Hawks most disliked by the fans in Vancouver.
"I'm pretty sure if I'm going to go there on a vacation it wouldn't be nice," Bolland said. "They probably wouldn't let me in once I got to the border. But it's always fun going there and playing in that atmosphere."
Surgery for Bickell:
The Hawks won't have Bryan Bickell for Game 7 after the winger underwent wrist surgery Monday to repair a tendon cut by a skate in Game 2. Bickell would be sidelined for 6-8 weeks should the Hawks advance past Tuesday night.
"While surgery was anticipated since the injury occurred, Bryan wanted to play as long as possible before time ran out to complete the procedure appropriately," said Hawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry.
The day after:
Rookie winger Ben Smith still was smiling ear to ear Monday from the overtime goal he scored in Game 6.
Smith won an NCAA championship with Boston College last season and was named the MVP of the Frozen Four, but that was nothing compared to the experience of getting an OT goal in a Stanley Cup playoff game.
"Definitely the greatest moment of my career, but yesterday is yesterday and we have a bigger challenge (Tuesday night in Game 7)," Smith said. "The important thing is our season is still alive and we have a chance to move on."
Home away from home:
If the Hawks must play a Game 7 on the road, it might as well be at Rogers Arena, the scene of some of their greatest playoff triumphs the last three years.
"It's always tough playing a Game 7 on the road and in Vancouver it's a tough rink," Dave Bolland said. "Their fans like to yell and scream and it gets pretty loud. We're going in there positive. We've had some success in this building from past seasons and we're going to go in there looking for a win."