NHL: Teams limp into Game 6 without stars
BOSTON — Patrice Bergeron joined his Bruins teammates for a postgame dinner and was with them when they flew back to Boston to prepare for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
“He came back with us and everything so hopefully he can play,” Boston’s Brad Marchand said Sunday, a day before playing a game Boston needs to win to extend the series to Game 7.
As the Cup final approaches a sixth and potential clinching game tonight, the attention shifted from the players on the ice to the ones who might not make it there.
Neither Bergeron nor Chicago’s Jonathan Toews finished Game 5 on Saturday night, and while their coaches expressed optimism that they would be able to play in Game 6, it was shrouded in the typical secrecy surrounding NHL injuries.
“He’s day-to-day,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, declining to even give the usual upper body or lower body description of the injury. “Day-to-day is really good news to me, anyways. Should be to you, too.”
Bergeron was injured in the second period of Saturday night’s game, which the Blackhawks won 3-1 to take a 3-2 lead in the series. He made two brief appearances on the ice in the third but something was obviously wrong and he was unable to complete either shift.
Toews, who won the Selke Award as the NHL’s top defensive forward — Bergeron was a finalist — missed the entire third period after a shot to the head from Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
“They’re both great players,” Chicago winger Patrick Sharp said. “I think any coach in the league, any player in the league would like to have those guys on their team. ... I can’t speak for what Boston is dealing with, with Bergeron. I know I don’t need to say much about Jonathan. I think everyone knows what we think of him in our locker room. Hopefully we can have him back for (today).”
Bergeron was taken from the United Center to a Chicago hospital in an ambulance for observation. He was released later Saturday night and rejoined his teammates for a team meal.
He did not speak to reporters on Sunday. Asked to elaborate on the injury, Julien only said, “Body injury.”
The Blackhawks lost Toews after Boychuk knocked him down in the slot, making contact with his head. Boychuk wasn’t penalized, and NHL spokesman John Dellapina said Sunday that the league reviewed the hit and there will be no supplemental discipline.
“I think they said it was clean, wasn’t it? Then I agree with them,” Julien said. “I’m not going to hide from that. If it wasn’t a clean hit — I’ve been a guy that supported those kind of things that we need to get out of the game. But it was a clean hit.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville alluded to the contact with the head but then said, “I’m not going to go there.”
Toews was tied with Patrick Kane for the Blackhawks’ team lead with 23 goals during the regular season. Since being reunited with Kane on Chicago’s top line in Game 4, Chicago has rallied to take the lead in the best-of-seven series. Before he was knocked out of Game 5, Toews assisted on both of Kane’s goals.
“He’s our leader,” Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya said. “You know, he’s one of those guys, and when he’s full-speed he gives everything he’s got every game. That’s something that is tough to replace.”
Quenneville said Toews was doing much better and the team is optimistic he will be able to play in Game 6.
“We’ll see how he is. I think the progress today, he’s doing real good,” Quenneville said. “We’ll visit in the morning, and he seemed fine. So nothing has changed. Nothing is different. We’ll keep an eye on him, and we’ll go from there.”
With or without Toews and Bergeron, the Blackhawks have a chance to clinch their second Stanley Cup title in four seasons. If they lose tonight, the series returns to Chicago for a decisive seventh game Wednesday.
“It’s not the best situation for either team,” Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said. “But it’s a tough sport, and injuries happen. When you leave it all out there to help your team win, that’s all part of the game.”