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Dave Bolland can bide his time on return

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Updated: June 11, 2013 4:34PM



Two years ago, Blackhawks center Dave Bolland rushed his return from a concussion to get back on the ice in the middle of a first-round playoff series. In retrospect, he knows it was early to return.

‘‘Yeah, it was,’’ he said Thursday. “It’s playoff hockey. You’ve got to be desperate.’’

Of course, the Hawks were trailing the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 in the series at the time. And Bolland’s return — he had a goal and three assists in Game  4 — was the catalyst the Hawks needed to win three in a row and force a Game 7 before falling to the Canucks.

This season, after eliminating the Wild on Thursday night in Game 5 with a 5-1 victory, the Hawks are far less desperate and have been far more cautious with Bolland, who has nursed a groin injury since April 22. Had the Hawks been down 3-1 instead of up 3-1 going into Thursday, maybe Bolland already would be back.

‘‘Tough to say,’’ he said. ‘‘Fifty-fifty chance. If it was do-or-die . . .’’

Bolland and Ray Emery sat out Game 5 but are both ‘‘real close’’ to returning, coach Joel Quenneville said. How close? Well, Bolland channeled Yogi Berra on that topic.

‘‘I don’t know about the percentage, but I’m halfway there,’’ he said.

Bolland said he fully expects to be back on the ice for the second round, which likely will start on Tuesday now that the Wild has been dispatched.

But while Quenneville has admitted to being cautious with injuries lately, he said he’s not simply saving Bolland for the next round.

‘‘If he was healthy, he’d be playing,’’ Quenneville said.

Bolland said he didn’t know where he’d fit back in the lineup, but Quenneville certainly sounded as if he had settled on Michal Handzus as his second-line center. That was Bolland’s spot before he was injured.

Looking ahead

If the Detroit Red Wings come back from a 3-2 series deficit to beat the Anaheim Ducks, the Hawks potentially would face them in Round 2. If not, they’d face the San Jose Sharks.

‘‘It’s been close,’’ Bryan Bickell said of the Ducks-Wings series. ‘‘They’ve been battling to the last couple seconds each game, and we’ve been watching.’’



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