There's something about Marian Hossa that brings out the best in his linemates.
Dave Bolland is the latest of the Blackhawks whose offensive game got a boost from playing on the same line as Hossa.
Bolland has 3 goals and 5 points in the last two games since being switched to centering the second line for Hossa and rookie Jimmy Hayes.
Earlier this season, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane went through hot stretches offensively with Hossa as their linemate.
"You look around, I think everyone's game seems to rise when you've got a chance to play with (Hossa)," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's been a situation where Hossa's game is complementary to our team game, and defensively he's got some quickness, where he kills plays with his backside pressure. He's deserving him getting picked for the All-Star Game."
Bolland is the Hawks' checking center, best known for his defensive work against the NHL's top players, but he is more skilled than he gets credit for and more offense is needed from him with Patrick Sharp out with a broken wrist.
Bolland has played two strong games with Hossa and Sharp, and he'll be back between them again Saturday in the critical Central Division showdown with Detroit at Joe Louis Arena.
"It's pretty easy to play with him when you see how he works and how he plays and what he does," Bolland said. "That's the reason he's an all-star and has 400 goals.
"It reminds me of the (Martin) Havlat days when Havvy was on the same side."
Bolland then laughed and added, "I don't know if it's Czech thing or Slovak thing."
Bolland and Havlat had success together as linemates when Havlat was with the Hawks, much of the time with Andrew Ladd on the left side.
Before scoring 4 goals in the last three games, Bolland had 1 in 18 with 6 assists.
"When you go through an 82-game season there are a few bumps in the road," Bolland said.
More kid stuff:
Rookies Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw are earning their keep, and their strong play was rewarded Friday when Ben Smith was picked as the player to go back to Rockford with Marcus Kruger coming off the injured reserve list.
Kruger likely will center the third or fourth line against the Red Wings with Dave Bolland staying with Marian Hossa and Hayes.
Hayes had a goal and assist in Thursday's 5-2 win over Minnesota, both on power plays, while Shaw had a goal.
"I thought Shaw was very good, dangerous off the rush, smart, keeps himself in the play, quick stick, protects the puck," Joel Quenneville said.
"Jimmy's a big body and he's got a quick stick. I think he has some looks, each and every game, in and out of that slot."
Quenneville was even asked if the 6-foot-6 Hayes reminds him of former Hawks star Dustin Byfuglien in front of the net.
"He's got comparable size, and around the net that disruption and disturbing the goalie is what it's all about," Quenneville said. "I thought having a net-front presence is something that, when your power play is struggling, ugly goals are what we're looking for."
Said Bolland: "When Jimmy stands in front of the net, I think it's tough to move him."
Not only do the Hawks play the Red Wings on Saturday for the third time in three weeks, they host the streaking San Jose Sharks on Sunday night at the United Center.
"Huge games," Joel Quenneville said.
"It's a really big weekend," Dave Bolland said. "These are points we've got to get here."