With another dominant performance on Sunday, Chicago Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland gave Vancouver Canucks supporters even more reason to hate his guts.
But Monday, it was Bolland's mouth that poured gasoline on the fire heading into Game 7 against the Canucks at Rogers Arena. He called the Sedin twins "ordinary" players, and said he relished punishing defenceman Dan Hamhuis with a colossal body check that set up Chicago's first goal.
"I don't think I have a formula," Bolland said when asked for the secret of his success against the Sedins. "It's not like math. … They're just two ordinary players, right?"
Henrik Sedin is the reigning NHL most valuable player, and won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer last season. Daniel Sedin captured the Art Ross this season, and could follow in his brother's MVP footsteps.
In Game 6 Sunday, Bolland obliterated Hamhuis behind the Vancouver goal with a check that separated the Canucks defenceman from the puck, and led to Bryan Bickell's opening goal. Later, he jumped into open ice and finished a pass from Patrick Kane to knot the score 2-2.
Hamhuis and Bolland have both fought concussion symptoms this season, and Bolland took exception when the Canucks defenceman appeared to target his head with a check in the late stages of Chicago's 5-0 victory in Game 5.
"Oh yeah, I knew," Bolland said when asked if he was aware that he was bearing down on Hamhuis on Sunday. "I think I knew from the blueline in. I thought it felt better than a goal."
Bolland has taken good note of comments coming from the Canucks dressing room, including a Henrik Sedin insinuation that he was just another player, and goaltender Roberto Luongo's remark that the Hawks centre wasn't a series-changer.
But Bolland has been just that. Chicago has won three consecutive games since he returned to its lineup after a month-long absence because of the head injury.
Bolland, a modern day rat in the Ken (The Rat) Linseman mould, says that he now gets recognized in the streets of Vancouver, and adores playing before hostile, pro-Canucks crowds. The Mimico, Ont., native has been a difference-maker in three consecutive playoff series between the rivals, and that means that more than a few choice words are directed his way when he walks around Vancouver.
"If I was going to go there for vacation, it wouldn't be nice," he said. "They probably wouldn't let me in once I got to the border. I think most people do recognize me, but probably don't say the nicest things. But it's always fun going there and playing there. The atmosphere, and everything that goes on in Vancouver, is great."