While Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn’t make it official until after Wednesday’s morning skate, rookie left wing Brandon Bollig already knew he would be playing in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Boston.
Bollig, who found out Tuesday, had plenty of time to let his parents and grandparents know so they could make the 4½ hour drive from St. Charles, Mo.
“I don’t think they were planning on coming in, but I’m excited for them to be here,” Bollig said.
Bollig hadn’t played since Game 3 of the first round against Minnesota, so his inclusion in the lineup was a surprise to many.
But with the Bruins a big and brawny team, Quenneville obviously felt the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Bollig was needed.
“I know my role and I’m going to go out there and provide that physical presence for our team and hopefully let our superstars play their role and maybe feel a little safer doing it,” Bollig said.
“You dream of this as a kid and I’m excited to live that dream and get it going. It’s awesome. I couldn’t be more excited and I’m just looking to go out there and play my role. I sure hope it’s not that hard, but you have to find that line, kind of push the envelope but know when to reign it in. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Quenneville didn’t think he needed to say anything to Bollig.
“I think certain guys are excited about playing in the Final,” Quenneville said. “All year long, whether the situation or the team, I think he’s pretty smart on knowing what he brings to our team, and to the table. We want him to play hard, smart, within the whistles, bring that element.”
There’s a line there that Quenneville didn’t want Bollig to cross.
“Discipline is something we talk about all the time,” Quenneville said. “I think we’ve been pretty responsible all year staying out of the box. I think that’s something we’ll reinforce, like we said earlier, playing hard between whistles, knowing a small quantity of penalties, one or two, will be preferable.”
Bollig skated at left wing on a line with Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik.
“All year long, that line, when they did play, had a purpose,” Quenneville said. “We felt several shifts they always seemed to be on the offensive end at the end of the a shift. They seemed to control the play. You’re comfortable with him in your own end, faceoffs as well. You have an overall game that we like. I think he can bring an element to our team.”
Bollig replaced Viktor Stalberg in the lineup. It has been a tough playoff for Stalberg, who also was a healthy scratch for the first two games of the Detroit series.
Stalberg is without a goal in 15 games – with just 1 goal in 28 career playoff games.
Quenneville juggled all his lines for Wednesday’s opener, reuniting Jonathan Toews with Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp and using Patrick Kane with Michal Handzus and Bryan Bickell.
He also had Dave Bolland back on the third line with Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad.
Splitting up Toews and Kane was a no-brainer for Quenneville, who pointed out how little they played together this season.
“All year long they played on two different lines,” Quenneville said. “I think there’s been some mixing along the way. All year long, we didn’t change much of the lines. In the last three rounds, there’s probably been some adjustments in that area. Kaner and Johnny seemed to click in the last four periods against L.A. At the same time they’ve been apart almost all year.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.