Throughout the month of July, Madhouse Enforcer will be taking a look at the performances of the 2013-14 Chicago Blackhawks. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What can they improve upon next season?
We’ll keep the train moving with a player that will not be in the Hawks’ dressing room next season, as we take a look at Brandon Bollig’s season.
Although he was plagued by inconsistency frequently this season, there were some real moments that it appeared that Bollig had fully embraced the type of player the Hawks wanted him to be. On opening night against the Washington Capitals, Bollig scored the first goal of the game and showed some serious hands as the Hawks got the season off to a rollicking start. Against the New York Rangers in January Bollig scored a goal, and despite only playing for less than eight minutes in the game, he really played a solid contest on both sides of the puck.
Bollig also asserted himself physically quite a bit during the regular season, racking up 203 hits and finishing in 22nd place in the league in that category. Even though that statistic has some flaws (hit totals obviously rise when a player’s team doesn’t have the puck very often), it is still an accurate way of showing that Bollig was engaged in that department throughout the campaign.
If there is one constant criticism about Bollig’s game, it’s that he often lets his emotions get the better of him. Whether it’s committing a bad penalty, trying to throw a check when he should try to remain in defensive position, or making the wrong decision with the puck, Bollig isn’t a guy that can often be relied upon in crunch situations, and his diminishing ice time as the season wore on is a pretty clear indication of that.
Best Game of the Season:
While it’s very tempting to go with Bollig’s performance against the Capitals on opening night as his best of the season, we’re instead opting for his game against the Boston Bruins on January 19 at the United Center. In that game, Bollig had three shots on goal, played 11:28 of ice time, and scored a goal as the Hawks knocked off the boys from Beantown in a Stanley Cup Final rematch.
Bollig’s goal wasn’t a fluke play either. After receiving a pass from Marcus Kruger down near the goal line, Bollig had several options. He could either pass back out to the point to get the cycle going, or he could try to find one of his forward teammates to help out. He ended up going with a third option that is always popular with Joel Quenneville, and he fired a shot in on Tuukka Rask. The shot ended up bouncing off the goaltender’s skate and into the net, tying things up at 2-2.
Outlook for 2014-15:
The 27-year old won’t be donning a Blackhawks sweater next season, but it’s hard to imagine he won’t at least get a shot at a bigger role with the Calgary Flames. He has the offensive skill set to be a third line winger, but the question is whether or not he has the discipline to do so. If he can show that he can stay out of the penalty box while still bringing a blend of offensive talent and physicality to the table, then the Flames will look like geniuses for acquiring him. If he can’t, then the Blackhawks will have once again acquired a decent draft pick for a player that no longer fit into their plans.