Toews, the Blackhawks captain who sat out the third period of Saturday’s 3-1 Game 5 win in Chicago, said Monday morning at TD Garden that he would play in Game 6 with an opportunity to close out the series.
“I feel great,” said Toews, who took several big hits on Saturday but said his coaches were just being “cautious.” “I’ll be ready to play. This is the best morning skate I’ve had all series.”
Meanwhile, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien said he was “confident” that Bergeron would play in Game 6, despite playing just two second period shifts in Game 5, missing the entire third period and being hospitalized briefly with an undisclosed ailment.
“It’s about tonight, and nothing else,” Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said, summing it all up — why injured players would play, why Boston couldn’t look ahead to Game 7, why the present mattered most.
Julien said backup forwards Jay Pandolfo and Jordan Caron would skate in warmups in case Bergeron decided last minute he couldn’t play, but all signs pointed to Boston’s top two-way player dressing in Game 6.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Jonathan Toews is hammered by Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk in Game 5.
“He’s an important part of this team, and he’s been probably our best player in this series,” Bruins winger Milan Lucic said. “So he’s going to do whatever it takes for him to be in the lineup, and I’m sure he’s going to bring his best if he is.”
Toews’ injury was presumed to be head-related following a double-forearm blow to the head and shoulder from Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk on Saturday, but he was ready to go on Monday. Bergeron’s injury, however, remained a mystery. One report initially said he’d suffered a ruptured spleen, but then another clarified Bergeron had not ruptured his spleen but did not provide clarification on the injury.
Regardless, Bergeron’s resilience mirrors the trademark characteristic of a Bruins team that overcame a 3-2 series deficit in 2011 to beat the Vancouver Canucks for the Cup; a team that came back from a 3-1, Game 7 deficit in this year’s first round to eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs; a team that planned to replicate its record of rising from the mat once the puck dropped on Monday night in Boston.
“You don’t come this far to lose, right?” Lucic said. “It would have been easy to quit two months ago in that Game 7 against Toronto, and we dug deep to get ourselves through that game. There’s no reason why we can’t dig deep and find that little bit extra to get us through this one.”
The Blackhawks, however, had a chance to capture their second Cup in four seasons. On the eve of that golden opportunity, some of the veterans and players on that 2010 championship club shared their experience with the younger players to prepare them for the stage.
“Well, a lot of guys have been through it,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think those guys’ experiences from (the Game 6 elimination win over) Philly a few years back can help the rest of the group that haven’t been in this position before. (Marian Hossa) has had a couple opportunities to be in this spot, as well.
“I think it’s an exciting day,” Quenneville continued. “You want to make sure that you’re confident out there and play that way. You can’t get ahead of yourself going into this game, and you’ve just got to get excited about your first shift. Then from there, (you’ve got to) get excited about your next shift. It’s something you dream about, so let’s make sure we prepare the right way.”