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Frustrated Bolland wants to chip in with Blackhawks

Updated: May 6, 2013 6:29PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. — It was physical, it was frenetic, it was intense.

Indeed, Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals was tailor-made for Dave Bolland, the Blackhawks center and chief agitator, who always has been at his best in the playoffs. But Bolland could only sit back and watch as his teammates lost 3-2 in overtime to the Wild, cutting their series lead to 2-1.

“It’s always tough watching a game like that and seeing a loss,” Bolland said.

A groin injury suffered in Vancouver on April 22 has kept Bolland out of the lineup for three regular-season games and three playoff games. He practiced with the team for the first time on Monday afternoon, but won’t be on the ice in Tuesday night’s Game 4 at the Xcel Energy Center. He’s “getting closer,” but he and the Hawks are being cautious as they prepare for what they hope is a long playoff run.

And with each game that passes, Bolland’s frustration grows.

“It does get difficult watching, and seeing what’s going on on the ice,” he said. “You’re watching all those other games, too, like St. Louis and L.A., and just to see everybody battling and in that playoff mode — it’s always a tough thing to watch.”

Bolland’s defensive prowess and ability to get under opponents’ skin — his battles with Vancouver’s Sedin twins are the stuff of legend — have always been amplified in the postseason. He struggled a bit in the regular season, dealing with assorted injuries and adjusting to his new role as the second-line center (he was the only Hawks regular with a minus rating), but his teammates know what to expect from him come spring.

“He’s an excellent all-around guy, a great two-way player,” Marian Hossa said. “He brings to the team that extra edge.”

Said coach Joel Quenneville: “Bolly in the playoffs usually takes his game to that playoff level of intensity. He’s been a very effective guy for us come playoff time.”

Bolland said he didn’t know where he’ll fit once he returns to the lineup. He appears to have lost his job on the second line to Michal Handzus. Whether he drops back to his old spot on the third line, bumping Andrew Shaw, or finds a new role all together, remains to be seen.

All he knows he wants to be back out there — in any capacity.

“It has been a difficult [season],” he said. “It’s been a little bit more disappointing than other seasons for myself. [But] there’s always time to turn it around. For myself, it’s thinking in the now and not in the past.”

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