You can't help but wonder what might have been if Blackhawks center and defensive ace Dave Bolland had been healthy for this entire playoff series with the Vancouver Canucks.
Bolland returned to the ice for the first time since March 9 on Tuesday night. He missed the final 14 regular season games and the first three games of the playoffs with concussion symptoms.
And what a dominating return it was.
Bolland had a goal and three assists and was a plus-4 in the Hawks' 7-2 victory at the United Center. More importantly, Bolland and his linemates (Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik) completely neutralized Vancouver's top line, which features the high-scoring Sedin twins -- Daniel and Henrik.
The first three games of this series, the Sedins did basically whatever they wanted. They combined for three goals and five assists and were a plus-6. With Bolland on the ice across from them Tuesday night, the Sedins managed just a meaningless power-play goal at 16:24 of the third period. They were a combined minus-6. Bolland's line absolutely destroyed them.
Given that the Hawks lost two of the first three games of this series by a single goal, do you think Bolland's presence would have made a difference in those games? I do, but there's nothing than can be done about it now.
The Hawks trail the best-of-seven series 3-1 and still have a daunting task ahead of them. But you can't win four in a row until you win the first one, and that first win is out of the way now. The Hawks have at least avoided a sweep and now they have to find a way to win Game 5 in Vancouver Thursday night.
I don't think the Hawks have much chance (if any) of coming back and winning this series. All you can really hope for at this point is a win in Game 5, and then you go from there. With Bolland back on the ice, the Hawks have a little bit better chance.