Well, We’re Waiting – 2013 Blackhawks Season Preview – The 3rd Line

Moving right along down the depth chart we now come to perhaps the most stable unit of the post 2010 era, Dave Bolland’s third line. While Bolland has never truly become the force of nature that his numbers in junior or his paycheck would have suggested, that he has become one of the premier checking forwards in the NHL is still a victory in and of itself.However, the line he’s been a fixture on is not without its flaws, Bolland included, and it will need to find consistency in short order for this abbreviated season to be a successful one for the Hawks.

Dave Bolland

76GP 19G 18A Even+/- 47PIM 15.1% 16:30TOI -.041BTN

The Rat enjoyed his most healthy and productive season scoring-wise since 08-09, tying a career high in goals with 19, and even in that campaign his shooting percentage was markedly up to a robust 17.1. But the real tale of the stats is the even plus/minus and the barely negative behind the net, as Bolland continued to be a workhorse for Joel Quenneville, playing some of the nastiest minutes in the league. Barely over 30% of Bolland’s shifts start in the offensive zone, and his quality of competition was 10th in the league at .086, only behind Brent Seabrook on the Hawks. While part of his offensive success last year can be attributed to Toews being dingy for a long stretch and someone needing to score in his absence, the sample size is large enough to show that Bolland dragged whatever linemates he had by the dick into competence. He’ll need to do the same this year, with all the same caveats- that his back could go Mt. Vesuvius at any given moment, and that he’s not going to win a draw to save his life. Bolland’s been skating fairly regularly here in town, when he wasn’t making a total fucking joke of himself on Twitter, so the conditioning is a concern. With Philip Danault eating souls in the Q and posting a similar skillset while being younger and cheaper, this could be our last long look at Bolland in the Indianhead.

Bryan Bickell

71GP 9G 15A -4 48PIM 10.1% 12:08TOI -.56BTN

Another player who might be taking his last trip around the carousel with the Hawks is Bryan Bickell, who will assuredly earn himself a larger salary than his current pube-above league minimum wage. Once Bick finally realized that he was not in fact Joe Sakic and nor did he have his wrist shot despite what his stats from the previous year kept telling him, he actually became relatively useful once everyone’s game needed to be streamlined in Toews’ absence. Bickell used his size more, but still not as aggressively as one would like. Nonetheless, he’ll undoubtedly be featured on Bolland’s line, and entrusted to make life difficult for opposing D men in their own corners. The smart money (the appropriate metaphor in this case) is that Bickell does so with a fervor this year, with unrestricted free agency on the horizon and a small window to make that matter in. Additionally, Bickell’s put up 27 points in 28 games for the Austrian league during the prelude to the NHL season, so he should be ready to charge ahead from jump street.

Michael Frolik

63GP 5G 10A -10 22PIM 4.3% 12:52TOI -1.44BTN

This is where things get a little iffy. While many observers would love to slot Andrew Shaw on Bolland’s right wing, the fact of the matter is that Shaw’s game is simply too irresponsible to be entrusted with this role, as evidenced by his numbskullery in the show, and it continuing unabated with the Swine so far this year.

There’s no getting around how rough of a year Fro had last year. That shooting percentage and BTN is enough to make little 6lb, 8oz, don’t know a word yet Baby Jesus cry. But much of that has to do with the perpetual crank-yanking he received from the coaching staff. One game on Toews’ wing, one game eating popcorn. One game as the #2 center, one game grooming those magnificent eyebrows. If given a home with Bolland, and the expectations are reconnoitered to him being the next Jay Pandolfo rather than the next Jagr (as he was at the time of his draft), then it stands to reason that the holes in his game can be masked, most notably a shot selection that would leave Nate Robinson befuddled. Frolik has shown the last two post seasons that he’s got the bag and the brain (something Shaw severely lacks) for such a role, it’s time to give it a whirl full time, and he should be ready to go as well after playing in the Czech league to this point. It stands to reason that this could be Frolik’s last chance with the Hawks as well, though if he steps in it again, that contract becomes mighty tough to deal, and the pitchforks for Stan come out again.

  • cliffkoroll

    “the sample size is large enough to show that Bolland dragged whatever linemates he had by the dick into competence.”

    “That shooting percentage and BTN is enough to make little 6lb, 8oz, don’t know a word yet Baby Jesus cry.”
    Oh McClure, you may be a tad thin-skinned, but allowances must be made for artistic genius!

    • cliffkoroll

      I quiver, nay shudder, to think what a man of your manifest talent and gift for the bon mot might mean for #operationpindrop.
      This combination could put TCI in the national spotlight. #silentroar

  • Waylon

    I’d agree with all of your comments regarding Frodo if someone (anyone) could please make him stop taking those terrible shots at impossible angles every farking time he has the puck. Then we have to watch the other teams make the inevitable bull rush up the ice the other way. Yech.

  • Joe Banks

    Slowly, the Brow begins to deliver… and Cory’s groin begins to quiver

  • Accipiter

    FTFY: grooming that magnificent eyebrow.

    Fro needs to work on separation, creating some space on his brow.

  • Apothecaries’ Weight

    Funny to think we have an entire line that could be gone next year.

    • ahnfire

      I would be sad to lose Bolly 🙁

      • 10thMountainFire


  • Personally, I like Shawzie’s blue collared, gritty, creative game more so than that of Froliks. If Shaw played the entire season last year I think he’d have potted 20 goals. I would love to see Frolik shine, but this is a fool me twice shame on me situation.

    • Joe Banks

      The Brow is very Saad.

      • I get wayy too excited over the thought of seeing Saad regularly dress for the big squad

  • Brandon Saad had 1g 3a and was +1 for rockford tonight. also had the GWG.

    • Joe Banks

      Thanks in part to the hustle of Ben Smith.
      Clendening looked great, despite being paired up with the albatross that is Ryan Stanton.(bad hair day)
      Olsen and Lalonde looked solid, Youds had several shots, gotta work on the targeting system. (The Box score only showed 2)
      Hutton likes to handle the puck too much. (Having Turco nightmare flashbacks)
      No shows were Kyle Beach, Marcus Kruger, Brandon Bollig, Andrew Shaw, and Nick Leddy.

      • Joe Banks

        A few more notes:
        Jimmy Hayes also had a great game. Pirri looked good, but a really stupid penalty in the first.(grow up)
        Dahlbeck has a cannon.
        Where is Kyle Beach?

        • Chris block says he has an abdominal injury, beach that is

          • Joe Banks

            thanks for the info – but damn, i hope not too serious

    • 10thMountainFire


      • Accipiter

        Come to me, son of Jor-El. Kneel before Saad.

        • 10thMountainFire


  • stacie7

    Oh man Bolland and his faceoffs. I totally forgot about the Bolland line. I’m so out of GDT form.

    • who cares if you don’t win faceoffs when you completely shut down the other teams line anyways…besides, I noticed he was around the upper 40% lower 50% towards the end of the year anyways

      • stacie7

        So he was above the Bolland line. That’s all we ever asked for anyway 🙂

    • ahnfire

      You know, I’m starting to wonder what people think the Bolland line means. I started that stat as a joke because we once talked about in gdt about whether there was a inverse correlation between Bolly’s quality of play vs his FO%. We chose 36% only because it was his number, not for any legit reason.

      • 10thMountainFire

        The Bolland line is the demarcation point whereby the Sedins are warned to refrain from crossing.

    • red palace

      In this case it is just as well you are out of GDT form.

      In his one GP in 2006-2007, Bolly was 4-for-11 at the dot, for a FO% of ……. (pause for effect) …… 36%. His seasons stats since then have been 46.5%, 44.4%, 49.4%, 45.1% and 48.4%. Among the Hawks with at least 750 minutes on ice in 2011-2012, this last stat ranked only behind Toews, Mayers and Brunette.

      So, not good, but with the recent trend taking him out of the terrible category.

  • “Bolland has never truly become the force of nature that his numbers in junior or his paycheck would have suggested.”

    I disagree here, McClure. When you look at other comparable teams (top-tier teams that spend at or near the cap), Bolland’s salary is perfectly average. I looked quickly at total salary of the first three centres on those teams, and the Hawks seem right in line; if they’re above average it’s only slightly. And this is useful: http://www.capgeek.com/comparables/?player=250. The top 20 comparable contracts (wingers are in there too) … I’ll take Bolland in almost every instance.

    His London point totals had me salivating, ya, that we may have grabbed a more offensive guy. But ya, 3.375 for one of the best checking centres in the entire league, that’s actually not high at all; and given the lower cap we may be able to re-sign him for similar.

    Faceoffs, though. Fucking faceoffs. No excuse there.

    • Accipiter

      I agree that Bolland is paid accordingly for his skill set.

    • Z-man19

      I’m with you Chico, Bolland is worth every penny and if the hawks can’t keep him, he will be sorely missed

      • Accipiter

        You know he’s not Chico, right ?

        • Thought I’d dispel the rumours. Truth … I received a really great email over at the old site about a year or two ago from a gentleman whose name I didn’t recognize from comments, but he asked me really politely and respectfully if I actually was Chico Maki, and he spoke briefly about some of his memories and told me I had been one of his favourite players. I wrote back (nicely) to tell him I could only remember Maki’s hockey cards, that I’d never seen him play. I love crushing people’s hopes.

        • Z-man19

          Are we talking the real Chico Maki or the Chico of SCH fame?

  • putmeinthemadhouse

    Hawks schedule leaked. 6 games in first 8 days good lord. http://imgur.com/QxJDi

  • Accipiter

    The NHLPA voted over 98 per cent in favour of ratifying the new CBA.

    • 10thMountainFire

      For the sake of my own selfish interests, I am going to assume that Bertuzzi, Backes, the Sedins, Torres, and Wisniewski voted against it. Because fuck them, that’s why.

  • DesertHawk

    Dos things, me compadres. Thing the first: Does anyone know when our first game is? My dad is saying it’s Jan 18 vs the Kings… but DirecTV is saying that Center Ice won’t even be available for purchase until 19 Jan :mental anguish ensues: Thing B: Is there any concern that Tazer will start off like it’s November? He’s notoriously not a fan of playing hockey then, do we think he hates November, or just the start of the season?

    • Accipiter

      The season is meant to start on the 19th. It’s an afternoon game for the Hawks vs. Kings (or so I hear). As far as Toews and his start to this season, I would say no one really knows, we will have to just wait and see.

      • Z-man19

        I know, Toews will dominate from the start, mark it down

  • swenny916

    Well they quietly released the schedule…http://www.nhl.com/ice/schedulebyweek.htm#?navid=nav-sch-main

    • Z-man19

      Awesome, 10 of the first 12 games on the road

  • justforkicks

    don’t really feel great about this – although guess we’ll see how legit as news leaks from training camp – but why we always gotta try to fix what’s not broken?

    A few random camp notes: CHI would like to see centre David Bolland in more offensive role. May start with Sharp and Kane as linemates.

    • That’s as ridiculous as putting Carbomb on a line with Kane and Hossa. Oh wait…..

      Goddammit Q, this is not the time for the blender.

      • justforkicks

        at least then we had an 82 game season to get our shit together.

  • Gozer the Traveler

    Welp. We’re wrong already. Per Bob McKenzie’s twitter: “A few random camp notes: CHI would like to see centre David Bolland in more offensive role. May start with Sharp and Kane as linemates.”

    Who’s the 3C in that case? Kruger?

  • Neal Schmidt

    This was posted awhile ago at a different site. Thought it might be of interest here:

    There is a new stat out there that is pretty interesting. They look at the “quality of who a player plays against” based on the opponents “Time on Ice.” As everyone knows, the better players tend to get more ice time. Here is a link to the original article:


    This shows some really interesting stuff. Players to the right of the chart
    play against the toughest forwards. Those are typically your best defenders.
    Players to the top play against the toughest defenseman. Those are typically
    your best offensive players. That is because the other team’s top d-pairs
    generally matchup against your top offensive lines. Here is the Chicago chart:


    Bolland isn’t really a traditional third line center. Most third line centers
    split time between the first line opponents and the third line opponents. So
    they usually end up in the middle of these graphs. Look at Jarret Stoll or Boyd
    Gordon as examples.

    http://nhlnumbers.com/uploads/Image/Los Angeles.PNG


    Q plays Bolland the way Pit plays Staal. He is really one of the few guys in
    the league that is comparable to Bolland. They play the toughest forwards all
    the time and the most offensive minded Defenseman. This is why Bolland and
    Staal show up on the graphs where they do.


    From these graphs there is a significant difference in how Bolland is used by Q compared to the way traditional third line centers are played. Bolland plays significantly tougher minutes than most second line centers, let alone the third line centers he is most often compared too.

    Compare Bolland and Kruger on these graphs. They are NOT comparable players based on the way Q uses them. If Kruger becomes the third line center he will NOT take Bolland’s shifts. Those will probably go to Toews in more of a Datsyuk role. That puts a bigger burden on Toews and should be taken into consideration whenever people want to replace Bolland.

    Here is a link to all 30 teams in case you are interested: