The 2011-2012 season was one of the best of Dave Bolland's career. It was the second time he'd be healthy enough to reach 75-plus regular season games and he'd tie a career high in goals (19).
The 2012-2013 season was a different story.
"Because of the lockout, we're coming back, you're tying to stay in shape, you're trying to be ready for whatever happens," the former Hawk, now 33 said. "It was a kind of tough year, because I was trying to stay ready. I think some guys went overseas, I stayed back. We skated at the rink and did our workouts and did what we needed to do. But it was kind of a down year for me.
"I think I had a concussion and then I pulled my groin really bad at the start of the playoffs and missed the Minnesota series. So it was a tough season. I know you can't have your best every season. There's going to be ups and downs, it's one of those things. But I got two Cups out of it and I'm grateful for that."
Dave played in 35 of the shortened season's 48 games in 2012-13, recording 14 points (seven goals, seven assists). In the NHL, and especially for the Blackhawks during their golden age, it's not how you start and play in the regular season, it's how you finish in the playoffs and if you do so holding a big, shiny trophy over your head.
The fan-favorite Hawk, nicknamed "The rat", would get his cheese.
In Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins — replaying on NBC Sports Chicago on Tuesday at 4 p.m. — Bolland put himself in the right place at the right time with less than a minute remaining in regulation and the game tied 2-2 to deliver one of the biggest goals in Blackhawks' history.
"When that puck went up top, some guys kind of won't go to the net, some guys will skate away from it. They don't want to take the punishment and take the beating with wherever the puck goes," the two-time Stanley Cup champion said. "Some guys may in that kind of position, just (have) stayed where I was, behind the net, and would hopefully have that puck come back around or behind the net and try to take the puck.
"But I knew once it went up to Johnny (Oduya), he shot it, 'Hey, there's going to be a puck, I'm not sure where it's going to go or where it's going to be, but I'm going to be in front for it.' I think it hit the post, it literally just dropped right in front of me and all I had to do was put it in the back of the net."
Like most hockey players, Bolland talks about the team and his teammates when asked about his own accomplishments.
"It wasn't me. I scored the goal, but it was a team effort of all of us (getting) there," Dave said. "I scored the goal, but it took a team effort to get to that. We had a great team that year and we had great leadership, great everything really. Great goaltending duo between Ray (Emery) and Crow (Corey Crawford), those two battled every night and they wanted to win. It was just a great overall team that we had that year."
One teammate, Bryan Bickell, scored 17 seconds before Bolland to tie the game and set the table for a timespan of heroics Hawks fans will never forget.
"Those last two goals that Bicks and I had will be in history for a long time, Dave said. "Who's ever seen that? A Stanley cup being won like that, how quick it was. 'Let's go back to Chicago', but literally in 17 seconds from thinking that we're heading back to Chicago to win it there to, 'Oh we're hoisting the Cup' in such a quick move."
The two former Hawks who helped add even more prestige to the Blackhawks' rich history already had a special bond, 17 Seconds was just the icing on the cake.
Bolland and Bickell played a lot of hockey together growing up, all the way until they were both on the same bench, wearing the same Indian head sweater.
The duo played pee wee hockey together and won a bantam championship as teammates in Ontario, but then split as each joined a different team in the Ontario Hockey League.
Bolland went to the OHL's London Knights for the 2002-03 season and Bickell to the Ottawa 67's the same year. The pair were reunited on the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League in in 2006-07, then landed with the Rockford IceHogs — the Hawks' AHL affiliate — together the next year. The rest is Blackhawks history.
"Bicks is a good guy," Bolland said. "We grew up together playing minor hockey so it was pretty cool to have that kind of moment of playing together as a kid, a child and then we actually won the Bantam Cup together in minor hockey and then we got to win a Stanley Cup in the NHL."
"It's kind of a whirlwind thing, you think everything comes back around. Me and Bolland, we played a couple years together. I lived outside Toronto like an hour, he lived in the city and then I moved to play on a better team in Toronto when I was younger. Played with Bolland, got drafted the same year, same round and then working our way up, he played a little bit in the minors, then he came up a little before I did.
"But then having that perfect '17 Seconds' to ultimately win the Stanley Cup was a cool moment and it was me and Bolland, probably the two only players that played together when we were younger on the team. So it was kind of a neat moment and I know that '17 Seconds' is the biggest moment of my career for sure."