(MCT) — SAN JOSE, Calif. — Dave Bolland stepped gingerly onto the ice and slowly made his way around the rink, testing his right leg.
By the time the Chicago Blackhawks were running line rushes during Monday’s practice, the center was skating full bore between Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane.
After missing the Hawks’ 3-2 shootout victory over the Flames on Saturday night, Bolland expects to return to the lineup when the Hawks face the Sharks on Tuesday night at HP Pavilion in a showdown between the teams atop the Western Conference.
“I feel pretty good,” Bolland said. “I might be in (Tuesday). We’ll see what the boss says.”
The “boss” is coach Joel Quenneville, who said, “(Bolland) looked good out there. It’s very likely he’ll be playing.”
Bolland was injured during the third period of the Hawks’ 2-1 shootout loss to the Canucks on Friday night when he was slashed near his ankle by Jannik Hansen.
“I took a pretty good whack,” Bolland said. “When you’re playing out there, things are going by pretty quick (and) sticks are swinging. It was a fluke play, but you just move on.”
After getting to his skates following the slash, Bolland angrily smashed his stick into pieces against the boards, fearing the injury could be significant.
“When you feel a lot of pain anywhere, you always have that thing in the back of your head that something is broken,” Bolland said. “(With) a 48-game year ... it really cuts it down if something serious does happen. I was glad nothing was broken or seriously injured.”
So are the Hawks, who are much more balanced along four lines now that Bolland has assumed the No. 2 center slot after shifting from the third line, where he mainly focused on defense. Bolland has three goals and an assist in eight games while Sharp and Kane have flourished with 13 and eight points, respectively, in nine games.
“It was a little bit of a change the first few games,” Bolland said. “When I get back on ‘D’ I always know where I am. Once we get on the offensive I just have to be aware of where Kane and Sharp are and where their sticks are. Once you give it to them, it’s easy going getting into (the offensive) zone.”
A big scorer in juniors, Bolland has been one of the NHL’s top defensive centers since entering the league on a full-time basis during the 2007-08 season.
“Now my role is as a two-way center instead of just the one way getting back,” Bolland, 26, said. “Going into the second line at center you’re always looking for more offense, but I’ve still been taking care of my defensive zone.
“You love scoring goals and putting points up, but for me it’s winning and taking the team back to where we took it the year we won the Stanley Cup,” Bolland added. “That’s the biggest achievement that you can accomplish.”