CHICAGO -- The groin injury Dave Bolland is dealing with right now probably doesn't hurt the Chicago Blackhawks center as much as the fact he's not playing.
Bolland, along with goalie Ray Emery (lower-body injury), will miss Game 5 of the team's Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday at United Center (9:30 p.m. CBC, RDS2, NBCSN). The Blackhawks lead the best-of-7 series 3-1 and with a win would advance to the conference semifinals.
Bolland and Emery have been scratched for the previous four games of the series.
"It eats [at you] a lot," Bolland said. "It's pretty painful, actually. It's not fun hanging out in the training room and the workout room while the guys are on the ice playing. You want to stay out of there as much as you can. It's never fun."
Bolland and Emery are participating in team skates, but neither has been cleared to get back into a game. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said both are "real close," which makes it sound like they could be ready for the next round of the playoffs should the Blackhawks advance.
If so, the next step is determining where each fits into the team's postseason puzzle.
Emery went 17-1-0 in the regular season, but Corey Crawford also had a great season and has won three of Chicago's first four Stanley Cup Playoff games heading into Game 5 against the Wild. He's coming off a 3-0 shutout in Game 4 on Tuesday, so he likely would keep the starting role going forward, barring injury or a major slip in his play.
Bolland is a different story.
Veteran Michal Handzus has slotted into Bolland's role as the second-line center between Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane and Quenneville might be hesitant to switch back whenever Bolland is cleared to play. Quenneville also could be tempted to put Bolland back at his third-line center role, in which he proved to be an effective pest to opposing top lines in previous playoff runs.
"When I come back, I'll come back," Bolland said when asked if he'd thought about where he'd play upon his return. "That's [Quenneville's] decision. He makes the final call. I'll get myself ready to come back and do whatever I can. It's [his] decision."
Quenneville also hinted the third line could be a possibility for Boland, which would bump rookie Andrew Shaw elsewhere and leave Handzus in the middle of the second line.
"We've got a couple options there," Quenneville said. "On a need basis, whether he [Bolland] moves where he used to be or where he could work his way up … it'll be a healthy decision knowing that him coming into our lineup gives us more depth, especially in the middle."
Bolland helped shut down the Sedins on the Vancouver Canucks' top line in the 2010 and 2011 playoffs, even though Chicago dropped the 2011 first-round series in seven games. That year he came back early from an injury after the Blackhawks got down 3-0 in the series and helped spark a three-game winning streak to force the seventh game.
If Chicago didn't have a two-game advantage in this series, would Bolland be playing Thursday?
"It's tough to say," he said. “It’s a 50/50 chance. If it was a do-or-die [game]? There's precautions you'd have to take to do it, so it's a 50/50.
"It's getting better. I just want to make sure it's strong."
Here is the lineup the Blackhawks likely will go with for Game 5:
Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Viktor Stalberg
Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Michael Frolik
Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy - Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya - Michal Rozsival
Scratched: Daniel Carcillo, Sheldon Brookbank, Jamal Mayers, Ben Smith, Ryan Stanton, Steve Montador, Jeremy Morin, Dylan Olsen, Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes, Shawn Lalonde, Klas Dahlbeck, Adam Clendening, Carter Hutton
Injured: Ray Emery (lower body), Dave Bolland (lower body)