No Playground Tactics No Rabbit In A Hat Tricks: Second City's 2010/2011 Blackhawks Preview Contiuned:

Moving on to other issues about the Hawks, I'm going to tackle a question that McClure kind of already answered in the comments yesterday.  But seeing as how I parrot him all the time and then add in one literary joke to make it seem like mine anyway, I feel this is ok.  From ChicagoNativeSon:

I’m still curious about our triumvirate’s thoughts on Bolland’s spot this year. Do you see him playing full-time at 3rd line center? Is the 2nd line really an option? I know quite a few commenters would like to see Bolly on the 2nd line, but do we really have guys to fill in the bottom lines then? Aside from Dowell (who I assume will hold down the 4th line), I know Beach and Kop have played at center in the past. Is Potulny a legitimate 3rd or 4th line center option if he makes the team?

I always have fun with this, but check out these two stat-lines:



The first is Patrick Kane's goals, assists, points from his one year as a London Knight. The second is Bolland's from his last year there. Obviously, junior numbers don't always translate even to the AHL much less the NHL. But what is obvious is that there's a ton of offensive skill in Fabulous Weapon just waiting to get out. Just like Dirk Diggler. C'mon, you knew that joke was coming. I mean, you think I'm going to miss a chance to quote Burt Reynolds?

You might forget that in his full season Bolland just missed cracking 20-goals and 50-points, and would have if Havlat had played on his wing the entire year. You might also forget that Q wasn't demoting Havlat to a 3rd line -- though Marty treated it like that for a little bit -- but was providing him with a genuine center who could get him the puck, which Patrick Sharp was not doing at the time.

But then came back surgery, and a disappointing performance when he came back in the regular season, followed by the demon-spawn we saw from the end of the Nashville series on. Big goals, agitated opponents, a player reborn. Which, sadly, leaves us with no idea what we have in Bolland now. Is he merely one of the better 3rd line centers in the game? A smaller Jordan Staal with more edge? Or, like Staal is likely to this year, is he going to be bumped up to the #2 role that his salary would suggest?

Frankly, I have no idea.  I think so much depends on who Bolland plays with.  This year, it doesn't appear there are going to be linemates with the defensive and hockey IQ that Ladd and Versteeg (most of the time) had.  Any one of Kopecky, Makarov, Stalberg, Skille, Beach, or anyone could end up on his wing.   And that will determine what kind of game Fabulous Weapon will play.  You could always use Toews to shut down an opponent's top gun in a fight-fire-with-fire ploy.

Personally, I think Bolland is capable of a #2 center role. Witness his virtuoso performance in Game 3 against the Sharks where he put Nabokov on his ass in the 3rd and then laid the winner on a platter for Buff in OT (and we know Buff won't miss anything on a platter). But last year they tried to thrust him there with a bad back and barely half a season in that role. He has to earn it, combined with a genuine checking center being available at the deadline.

In house candidates?  There aren't any.  Potulny was barely top-9 at Edmonton, and though the chance of being surrounded by superior talent could raise his game, don't count on it.  Beach is a winger and right now we're pretty sure he's too stupid to be a center.  You've seen Kopecky as center, how did you feel about it?

The Hawks are counting on and need a jump in production from all their core, no more so than Bolland.

-For tonight's preseason opener, I'm going to echo The Fifth Feather's call and ask everyone take it with a grain of salt.  The things to watch tonight are to see who Beach and Makarov play with and against.  Then we'll know what the staff thinks of them a little better.