The Chicago Blackhawks will begin their first round playoff series against the Minnesota Wild tomorrow night at the United Center, but they will be without two key contributors to their club’s success.
Center Dave Bolland, who has been battling a groin injury in recent days, will not be on the ice tomorrow, and neither will goaltender Ray Emery, who is still dealing with a lower body injury. Both players are still listed as day-to-day by the Hawks.
The loss of Bolland may be especially problematic for the Blackhawks, as they have come to rely on the center for his defensive prowess during past postseason appearances. He has been the guy given a great deal of credit for slowing down the Canucks’ Daniel and Henrik Sedin, as well as the Sharks’ Joe Thornton, and losing him for any length of time would be a big loss for the club.
In terms of replacing Bolland, the logical step for head coach Joel Quenneville would be to keep his second line intact, with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane playing on the wings alongside Michal Handzus. The veteran center, obtained by the Hawks near the trade deadline, has been tremendous defensively for the team, as well as a decent option on offense, with six points in 10 games with the Blackhawks.
As for Emery, it would seem that he was going to see backup minutes to Corey Crawford regardless of his level of health, but not having an experienced backup goaltender is still problematic for a club with Stanley Cup aspirations. Carter Hutton will likely be sitting on the bench with a baseball cap on when Game 1’s puck drop occurs on Tuesday.