The Chicago Blackhawks beat Boston 3-1 last night in Chicago to take a 3-2 lead in the series which at this point might not even be the biggest story going forward in this year’s Stanley Cup Final. Despite the fact the ‘Hawks are just a win away both they and the Bruins are facing the prospects of playing game six without one of their stars.
Boston’s Patrice Bergeron skated briefly in the opening seconds of the 2nd period before leaving the game and eventually was in an ambulance on his to the hospital. It was clear from watching Bergeron that something wasn’t quite right as he lacked confidence as he gingerly made his way to the bench. In the mysterious ways of NHL injury talk being what it is, the Bruins will only say it’s something “keeping him from playing.”
Common sense would tell us it has to be a “lower body” injury but who knows? Trying to figure out NHL injuries is like trying to figure out what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa.
Chicago is also dealing with an injury as well though as Jonathan Toews left the game in the 3rd period. Head Coach Joel Quenneville said the Toews’ had an “upper body” injury without elaborating any further. Toews sat on the bench throughout the third period but did not enter the game. Quenneville is hopeful that Toews will be available for game six but would only say they have to see how he is feeling today.
Both head coaches must now plan for the possibility of missing one of their top players for potentially one or two games. With both guys meaning so much to their respective teams, how the coaches adjust the lines will be crucial in what will be for the moment, the biggest game of the year so far.
- The ‘Hawks have done well in tying up Zdeno Chara the last two games.
In the United Center last night, the Blackhawks were able to once again use their speed to create opportunities in front of the net. Patrick Kane had two goals and then Dave Bolland added an empty-netter late to preserve the win after Zdano Chara scored early in the third to draw the Bruins within one goal.
Chara has found himself in an interesting position over the last two games. In the high-scoring game four, Chara was on the ice for five of the Blackhawks’ six goals and then last night he again was victimized by being on the ice for two of the ‘Hawks goals. Every top defenseman goes through rough periods but its’ clear Chicago is targeting Chara with some physical play.
Brian Bickell has been the key instigator in getting a body on the 6’8″ Chara and the Bruins have been unable to do much about it. Bickell nailed Chara hard at one point during the game in front of the Bruins’ bench getting a vicious reaction from the Bruins, Milan Lucic who wanted to fight Bickell.
The Bruins have to channel that frustration towards to the net in front of Corey Crawford who was very good in goal last night stopping 24 of 25 shots. Many, including myself, thought Tuukka Rask would outplay Crawford and to this point, Crawford has been just a little bit better. Crawford’s one weakness seems to be his glove-side of late and I look for the Bruins to attack that heavily in game six.
Let’s assume that both Bergeron and Toews can’t go on Monday night in Boston. I’ll call it a push because both guys do a lot for each team and frankly are irreplaceable. Boston is a tough, veteran club that will need to get out early in order to rely on their defense but I think Chicago has found some weaknesses and I see them hoisting the Cup in Boston Monday night.