Here's the good news for Blackhawks fans: The top two lines have been firing on all cylinders for most of the season. The Hawks rank second in the NHL in goals scored and have four players (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa) ranked in the top 15 of the league in scoring.
Bolland, at minimum, has continued to make solid defensive contributions. He backchecks hard, and he's been an effective forward on the penalty kill. That said, he's a capable offensive player, too, but that part of his game has been absent. Bolland has only two goals and two assists in his last 17 games -- this coming after a hot start to the season that saw him total five goals and two assists in his first nine games.
I would say, however, that Bolland is the least of the Hawks' worries on that third line. After a good postseason a year ago, Frolik has been one of the most disappointing players this year. He's has been held off the scoresheet in 14 of his last 17 games, and his performance was so poor during Sunday night's overtime win over San Jose that he barely saw the ice in the third period. For his career, Frolik has been good for a point basically every other game (135 points in 269 career games). That's what I expect from him, but he's been woefully short this year. Only four goals and five assists in 29 games. Not good enough.
If you think Frolik has been bad, check out the numbers on Bickell (pictured). He hasn't had a point since Halloween. He's scoreless in his last 13 games and has been a healthy scratch in each of the Hawks' last five contests. Bickell is blessed with both speed and size, but he's been a no-show in far too many games this season. That's why he's been watching from the press box a lot lately. He should be embarrassed by his play. He better pick it up before GM Stan Bowman sends him on the next train out of town.
We're hearing reports that Bickell will be back in the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Minnesota Wild. Ben Smith has been sent back to Rockford, creating a spot for Bickell. He'll be skating on a line with Bolland and veteran winger Andrew Brunette.
I'll be interested to see how Bickell responds to his recent benching in Minnesota.