CHICAGO — While the Bruins were without Patrice Bergeron in the third period of Chicago’s 3-1 victory in Game 5 Saturday night, the Blackhawks had their own injury concerns. Jonathan Toews spent the entire final period on the bench, with an injury that Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville would later say was “upper body.”
Toews did not address the media in the Blackhawks’ dressing room, but TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted that, after asking if Toews was OK, the player responded “yes.” Dreger reported that Toews posed for pictures with fans after the game and did not appear to be in any discomfort.
“We’re hopeful he’ll be ready next game — upper body,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
The reason for his absence could have been a hit from Johnny Boychuk, which came with about eight minutes to go in the second period. It was a wallop from behind that sent Toews sprawling in front of the Boston net. And while there was no confirmation after the game that that hit was the reason Toews spent the remainder of the game on the bench, it was certainly a possibility.
Asked specifically about the Boychuk hit, Quenneville said, “I’m not sure.”
Added Quenneville, “I don’t think it was a defining blow. I’m not sure exactly the incident.”
Said Patrick Sharp , “I’m not sure if that’s where he got hurt or not, but playing against Boychuk — I’ve been matched up against him all series — you’ve got to keep your head up. It was clean, no doubt about it. But he plays hard, makes those big hits.”
Sharp, who had the Blackhawks’ first two goals, emphasized that he hadn’t seen the replay and that he trusted the referees’ judgment of the play, saying, “He’s done that to me every shift. He’s a clean player. He hits hard. You know he’s coming and he’s going to finish all his checks. He’s hitting everybody out there, but I’ve got to give it to him. He’s hitting guys clean.”
Toews remained on the bench in the third period, though he didn’t see any action, something that Quenneville said he believed was a good sign. Toews played just 12:56 of the game.
“I checked on him a couple times there,” Quenneville said. “I think he wanted to play, but we’ll see.”
With all the talk from the Blackhawks about the opportunities to “expose” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, Quenneville responded to the comments made by Toews, his captain, on Friday.
“I know that’s an ongoing battle, ongoing challenge,” Quenneville said. “Big minutes, big man, positionally strong and aware. I just think that whether you’re going away from him or at him, you’ve got to do some things to play in your favor. But it’s not an easy job, and it’s not an easy challenge.”
Toews added to his comments on Saturday morning, saying, “We’ve got to be better against him, by outworking him and outnumbering him, especially when the puck’s on his side of the ice. It’s something we want to keep focusing on. We’ve got some confidence that we can get to him, and get to players like him and [Tuukka] Rask, as well.”
Marian Hossa did not participate in Saturday’s morning skate, as was the case before Game 4 in Boston, in which he played. “He’s fine,” Quenneville said. “He’s going to play, and we’ll say he should be better.” Hossa played 16:23 and had one shot on net . . . After the teams combined for 11 goals in Game 4, both knew it was unlikely to go that way again in Game 5. As Quenneville warned, “Offensively, I don’t think we want to think that we’re going to be scoring at that rate. I know scoring has been tough the prior two games, and we haven’t generated a ton of scoring chances. Let’s know that we can’t give up the quality [chances] we gave up last game, and I think that having a better, more consistent approach, both sides of the puck, and knowing that it’ll probably be tighter played by both teams.”
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.