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Dave Bolland provides spark once again

CHICAGO -- The Rat is back. Again.

Dave Bolland made an impact in his return to the Chicago Blackhawks' lineup on Saturday after missing a week with an upper-body injury, just as he did after missing time during last season’s playoffs.

“[Bolland] makes a difference,” coach Joel Quenneville said after the Hawks’ 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars. “When you see how he turned the series around when he joined us in the Vancouver series down 3-0… and tonight it seems like everyone has more of a purpose in our lineup and the lines seem to fit in nicely.”

Sounds like calling Bolland the glue to the team, which has been uttered on more than one occasion, is about right. As for dramatic returns, how does two goals, five shots, a 67% winning percentage in the face-off circle and a plus-2 rating sound? They were all team highs.

“It’s never fun being out of the lineup,” Bolland said. “It’s always a pain. And all you do every day is skate and skate and skate, trying to get back in the lineup. To be back in there and playing is fun.”

And Quenneville is right, something about the team feels right when Bolland is in the lineup. He’s now getting more offense off his defense, which is making opposing defenses worry about more than just Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

“The other team’s defense sometimes has to be aware of [top guys] but some nights [Bolland’s line] can outscore the top lines and when that happens it’s a bonus,” Quenneville said.

But Bolland has to stay healthy. Back problems and a concussion caused him to miss 62 games over the last two seasons and one more already this year. After sitting out Friday, his first goal came on a laser shot from inside the Stars’ blue line.

“It was perfectly placed where I put it,” Bolland said. “But I knew the one guy was coming at me. I knew I had to be aware of [Stephane] Robidas so I think I placed it in a nice spot.”

His return to the lineup came in a nice spot as well. The rat is indeed back.