BOSTON – The Chicago Blackhawks are one win away from capturing their second Stanley Cup in four seasons, and in much the same manner as they did in 2010 against the Philadelphia Flyers: up 3-2 in the series, going into a hostile road environment for a closeout Game 6.
But the Boston Bruins have the experience and the hardware to counter any perceived Blackhawks advantage heading into Monday night’s showdown at TD Garden: In 2011, the B’s also faced a 3-2 deficit, only to topple the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 at home in Game 6 and 4-0 on the road in Game 7.
Seventeen players from that 2011 Bruins championship team are on this year’s roster.
“It’s a similar feeling, especially having the series tied, 2-2, taking Game 5 at home and coming on the road for game 6,” said Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp, one of a handful of players remaining from the Hawks’ 2010 championship squad. “(But) you’ve got to be careful. You’ve seen a couple years ago, Boston was down 3-2, they won at home and then won Game 7 in Vancouver. We know this team is capable of coming back.”
Historically, the Game 5 winner of a Stanley Cup Final following a 2-2 split has won the series 15 of 22 times since the best-of-seven format was introduced in 1939 (68.2%). However, the Game 5 loser has rebounded to win the Cup on four of the past six occasions, all since 2001, including the 2001 Colorado Avalanche, John Tortorella’s 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning, the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins and the 2011 Bruins.
That recent history also can be fuel for Boston’s fire, but it may not matter if its second-line center and top all-around player Patrice Bergeron is not able to suit up for Game 6.
Bergeron is “day-to-day” with a “body injury,” coach Claude Julien said on Sunday, after playing just two second-period shifts and none in the third during the Blackhawks’ 3-1 Game 5 victory in Chicago on Saturday night.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Jonathan Toews takes a double-forearm shiver to the head from Johnny Boychuk.
Bergeron was taken to the hospital after leaving the game but was discharged on Saturday night and flew back to Boston with the team.
Bergeron is fourth on the Bruins in scoring during the playoffs (nine goals, 15 points). He is 61.9% on faceoffs, a plus-two, second among Boston forwards in minutes played per game (20:52). And he has been Mr. Clutch this postseason: he scored the game-tying and game-winning overtime goal in the Bruins’ miraculous, Game 7 first-round comeback from a 3-1 third-period deficit against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Then in Game of this series in Boston, he nearly was the catalyst for another improbable comeback, scoring back-to-back goals to tie the Blackhawks at 4-4 in an eventual 6-5 Chicago overtime win.
Given that Bergeron was taken to the hospital, Julien sounded relieved on Sunday that his condition wasn’t worse.
“Day-to-day is really good news to me, anyways,” Julien said. “Should be to you guys(, too).”
But while Boston waits on Bergeron’s status, the Blackhawks were much more optimistic about captain Jonathan Toews playing in Game 6 after missing the entire third period of Game 5.
A controversial, double-forearm shiver to the head and shoulder from Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk in the middle of the ice – coupled with several legal, hard hits to Toews’ body during the course of his regular shifts – sidelined Toews for the final 20:39 of Game 6.
The NHL opted not to dole out any supplemental discipline to Boychuk for the hit, but Chicago coach Joel Quenneville sounded optimistic that Toews will play. The Hawks’ captain is sixth on the team in scoring (two goals, 12 points, plus-eight, leads all Chicago forwards with 21:36 of ice time per game and is 52.8% on faceoffs. He also had two assists in game 5.
“Jonny is doing much better today,” Quenneville said. “He’s progressed. We’re optimistic that he might be playing tomorrow night … There wasn’t a penalty on the play (when Boychuk hit Toews), and it was one of those hits in a tight area in front of the net. You can be vulnerable in that area, a bit hit. The first part of contact you could talk about, but I’m not going to go there.”