The Chicago Blackhawks cruised to a 3-1 victory on Saturday night, taking the lead in the Stanley Cup Final over the Boston Bruins as the series shifts back to the east coast. The win didn’t come without worry however; Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews did not play a shift in the third period due to an apparent injury.
Toews didn’t sit on the bench for the full 20 minutes just to rest. It became apparent right from the opening faceoff that something was wrong, as Marcus Kruger was out to take the draw with Toews’ usual line of Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell. Almost immediately, analysts started looking back in the tapes to see where Toews might have got his bell rung, and most of them came up with the same answer: this hit in the second period on Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuck. Take a look:
In the first 40 minutes of game five, Toews had a brilliant game, his second in a row, assisting on both Kane goals to give the Blackhawks the two-goal lead they never relenquished. Toews has been the most dynamic player on the ice for the Blackhawks in the last two contests, generating offense, while taking care of mammoth Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara in front of the net, and using his Selke-winning two way game to frustrate the Bruins’ offense.
When Toews was on the bench during the third period, he was witnessed saying “give me a shift” to the Blackhawks coaching staff, who wisely did not grant his wish. The Blackhawks’ bench bosses kept him out of the game, and let the rest of the Hawks, who aren’t short on star power, nurse the lead. Patrick Kane had this to say about Toews; demeanor on the bench:
We had an idea after the second period, but to see him out there on the bench supporting the team and doing whatever he can, even though he wasn’t going to get a shift, gave us a little boost.
Now that the game is long passed, Blackhawks fans are losing sleep over the potential loss of their captain. Coach Joel Quenneville put some minds at ease, saying he’s “hopeful” Toews will return to the lineup for game six in Boston on Monday night. He also stated that Toews suffered an upper-body injury on the play, and he neither confirmed nor denied a concussion.
There is a pretty good chance that Toews will dress in Boston for game six. He has been the heart and soul of the Blackhawks’ offensive revival since the Game Three shutout, and with the Stanley Cup on the line, Toews will sacrifice anything to bring it home once again. He may not be as effective as usual, just like Marian Hossa in Game Four, but he will give the team everything he has, and that could be just enough to sneak by the Bruins one last time.
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