I would like to evaluate some of the players who have already been sent packing, or who only played a few games before the season's end, and I just might later, but likely not. Smith and even Kruger offer interesting perspectives, but there just isn't much to go on. Even though I thought Johnson was a great grab and offered a lot to the team, his departure leaves one wondering of reasons to talk about him. I also think that Dowell deserves his day, another player I will miss.
With the above in mind, we jump right into the thick of it and discuss Dave Bolland.
Quite simply, Bolland is an integral component of this team. I start off with that sentence, because I can find more than a few reasons or ways to criticize his play and would rather start with a largely positive statement. He has a knack for doing that disappearing act so many other Hawks got in the habit of last year, but when it comes down to it, Dave is a guy we need on the ice as much as possible and good things happen when he is around.
When Bolland is not around, the team suffers having no one to fill his role. Who could anyway? Bolland just might be the best at what he does. Unfortunately, he also has a habit of getting himself injured. I like to argue that he might never have healed from whatever was ailing him in during the great Cup run. Not willing to depart with the integral part in the Hawk's success, he was probably pushed beyond his limit and while injured.
The result was a really piss-poor start to the 2010-11 season and another injury down the line. Hey, at least we got our Cup. It has also kept Bolland from tallying more than 20 goals in a single season. The first thing I think of when I hear his name is an interview in which Bolland became somewhat frustrated after Troy Murray referred to him as a gritty defensive player. Bolland responded with a few statements about how he could score goals too, and that if he was asked to be that guy, he would be.
No doubt about it, Dave can give other teams hell and score while doing so, and that is what makes him so irreplaceable. He sure as hell changed everything in the Canuck's series, why, because he shuts down top lines day in and day out, and then he scores a huge goal to pump his team while in the act.
He has seen a large number of wingers in the past 3 years and gets it done with anyone. I used to think playing with Havlat was what made him so good, or Ladd, and then Versteeg (who recently was traded to the Florida Hawks). It would seem that Bolland is the factor that makes everyone else better, playing with Bickell and Pisani, and a few others this year.
So, where does Dave fit this year. As the only other solidified center on the team, is Bolland a #2 center, or #3, or his he even the #1 since he plays best against other's top lines? How he gets used is really unimportant, unless it is on the Power-play (bad idea), Bolland is a natural PK player exploiting other teams comfort and he belongs only in that special teams area. As long as Bolland hits that 20 goal mark this year I will feel good about it though.
Final analysis: Dave Bolland is one of my favorite player to watch. His dumbfounded facial expression bring much joy to me and my wife while watching the games from home, and his tenacity is unparalleled. If only he can stay healthy (concussions are not the best things on the world). I am realizing now why my grade for Bickell was a tad high. I am somehow hesitant to give Bolland an A, even though his explosive second half had much to do with the Hawks making the playoffs.
Final Grade: A. What he did to the Canucks upon his return is enough evidence for me that his season was a success. The Hawks were after all, just one goal away from eliminating the Western Conference Champs, and no one had more to do with that than Bolland. I would also like to add that I think he might be the best player besides Toews to go in the shootout round. Breakaway goals seem to be a specialty of his.