Player Previews continue with our look at the grizzled looking, yet young one, Dave Bolland. Before that, we should tell you that Patrick Kane will be breaking his silence at the U.S. Orientation Camp tomorrow at Seven Bridges in Woodridge. Expect a complete recap from us about that and so much more as one-half of the Fifth Feather is already camped outside ready for the doors to open.
Statistically speaking, Dave Bolland didn’t have a jaw-dropping campaign. His 19 goals and 28 assists were nothing spectacular. However, this being his first full season in the ‘Show’, there was a steady progression with the culmination being his fine finish in the playoffs.
No one remembers now, but Bolland started off this season with a 14 game goal-less drought. He didn’t net his first goal until a November 14th tilt against the St. Louis Blues when he scored two goals. Then a little more than a week later, Bolland netted his memorable overtime game winner against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wendel Clark Night.
This is probably the part where I should mention that Marty Havlat then joined his line in December and his production started to pick up. Just like Andrew Ladd, Bolland’s stats saw a slight spike after Havlat was put on his wing.
His best stretch of play during the regular season was from January 28th until March 3rd when he notched 7 goals and 7 assists during a 17 game span. For what it’s worth, the Hawks went 11-6 during that timeframe.
In the playoffs, though, Bolland nearly became the lockdown center and point per game player that analyst Steve Konroyd kept insisting he was. In 17 games, Bolland had 4 goals and 8 assists.
Other than Patrick Kane, Bolland was one of the main reasons the Vancouver Canucks went home early this summer. In a must-win Game 2, he potted 2 goals and in a must-win Game 4, he notched 2 assists. Not to mention, he scored the game winning goal in Game 5 when he drilled the half-empty net after a beautiful cross-ice feed from Kane.
He also drew the toughest defensive assignment in each playoff series and performed admirably. In the first round, he was up against Iginla’s line. Then, he faced the Sedins. Finally, he met his match against Detroit when he didn’t have one line to stop, but four. Either way, Bolland proved his mettle down the stretch.
If you would have told me at the beginning of last season that Dave Bolland would not only draw the top line assignment from a playoff opponent, but the Hawks would also win a couple rounds, I’d look at you like you just asked for twenty cents in change from your cab driver.
Bolland’s 2009-’10 will be a success if…
His first peak year is just the beginning. According to Puck Prospectus, the peak years of every player is the 23 to 26 age range. When the season opens, Bolland will be 23. If he continues to progress as he should, then 60 points shouldn’t be considered out of the realm of possibility. Of course, a lot of that has to do with what his role will be. Last year, Bolland was considered the checking center. With John Madden and 4th line center du jour, he shouldn’t be asked to do that anymore.
Bolland can crack 20 goals. He came as close as possible last year and this year, he should pass it. There was a lot of adjusting for Bolland at the beginning of this year. After all, this was the first time he opened up the season on the big club. Certainly his long goal-less drought probably had a lot to do with him coming up a bit short. Regardless of who he plays with, Bolland should be able to generate a good amount of offense.
Bolland’s 2009-’10 will be a disappointment if…
We are reminded countless times how much Dave Bolland makes. Yes, he makes more money than he probably should. However, what he makes will mean nothing if he produces at a reasonable level. Nevertheless, the price tag puts a pretty big bullseye on his back for this season. It’s one thing to open the season with a long scoring drought when you’re still considered to be wet behind the ears; it’s quite another to do that when you’re making $3.785 million per year.
His face-off win percentage doesn’t improve. Last year, Bolland only won 44% of face-offs. In the playoffs, it jumped up to 45%. These numbers need to keep getting better. As a 2nd line center, he can’t be considered to be a liability in the face-off dots. He doesn’t need to win at a 60% rate, but as long as progress keeps being made, then everything should be alright.
While Bolland became the poster boy for steady progression on the ’08-’09 Blackhawks, starting off the season well is a must for him in this next campaign. Another extended goal-less drought and people will immediately start jumping to radical conclusions about him as a player.
It will also be interesting to see what kind of players Bolland will skate with. He was asked to be a checker last year which was a bit out of character for him. This year, he’ll be asked to do what he’s always done throughout his career, score. Can he do it without the help of the omni-present Martin Havlat? Only time will tell.