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Bolland could be back in the lineup for Game 4

by Brian Hedger / Chicago Blackhawks

-- Dave Bolland is tired of being a fan and has a goal of returning to play in this Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Vancouver Canucks.

That said, his ongoing recovery from a concussion inflicted by an elbow on Mar. 9 against the Tampa Bay Lightning will still keep him from playing in Game 3 on Sunday night at the United Center.

"I'm progressing," Bolland told after Chicago's morning skate on Sunday. "Things are going good. Now it's just keeping it on a baseline, keeping it straight and making sure there's no other symptoms -- making sure nothing is coming back. You're going to have your ups and downs, but I still have to be positive, come to the rink and do everything I can to come back. Everything for me is staying positive."

That's why Bolland is targeting this series for his return to action. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville even indicated that a return by Bolland is possible sooner than later -- maybe even game 4 on Tuesday.

"Every day it's more encouraging -- the likelihood of him playing," Quenneville said. "Today there was some consideration of him being very close (for Game 3). So, we're optimistic and hopeful of next game him being able to join us."

That has to be music to Bolland's ears. A year after frustrating the Canucks in a conference semifinal as an irritating defensive-oriented center, Bolland is the one being frustrated now by something much more ambiguous than an opposing team.

Bolland had back surgery that caused him to miss half the regular season a year ago, but this has been more aggravating.

"I thought my back surgery was a big thing, but that's just minor compared to this thing now," said Bolland, who's been skating and participating in team activities for almost a week. "When you have surgery on your back, at least you have a timeline. They give you three months and you're back and you feel good. With this, there's no timeline, no  'OK, you're going to be back at this certain date.' I feel for all the guys who've gone through this, because it's a pain in the (butt). It's brutal."

Bolland said the symptoms he's experienced include severe headaches and dizziness -- where the room feels like it's spinning and objects seem to be moving when they're stationary. The headaches, he said, are the worst.

"Worse than migraines," Bolland said. "Probably the worst thing you can imagine. It feels like your head just wants to blow up. It's terrible. You take Tylenol and it's beating that."

Whenever the symptoms flared up, he had to  lay down in a dark, quiet room for about 15-20 minutes until they subsided enough to come out. He's past the worst stage now, but doing that routine repeatedly started to get depressing -- which Bolland has worked through with James Gary, the team's mental skills coach.

"I was sitting at my house and the main thing they say is, 'You need to get rest -- rest, rest, rest,' and I think I was just getting so much rest I was getting depressed," Bolland said. "I didn't want to be around anybody. I didn't want to talk to anybody. I didn't want to deal with anything coming to the rink here. It's just the worst. (Gary) put things in my head that changed it and gave me an extra step in being positive and just taking it step by step, day by day. That's all you can do."

That's also why he continues to express positive thoughts about returning against the Canucks.

"It's not a guarantee, but I know in my mind that I want to be back for this series," Bolland told "You can (return) in one day. They have a neuro-psych test and a fitness test we do here. It could all be in one day. It could be any day. It's just how I feel."

Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby is going through the same ordeal, only his has gone on even longer -- since the first week of January. Bolland, who'd only had one concussion in his career prior to this one, said he has a good idea -- and respect for -- Crosby's situation.

"Oh yeah, I can really see what he's going through," Bolland said. "It's a long period and you've got to take those rests. Skating around you feel good. You feel great. But there's going to be some moments on that ice where you're going to get stuck out there for 2:00 or take a big hit and those are the ones you've got to be (ready) for."

Bolland isn't quite ready for those just yet, but it could change at any moment. And if the Hawks can get him back, it could really give them a needed boost.

"He's been an effective player for us in a lot of ways, whether it's matchup or that line or him on the power play and penalty killing," Quenneville said. "We use him in all areas. We know the importance of center ice, but at that same time we've got to find ways to get it done without him."

Author: Brian Hedger | Correspondent

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