Hawks fight through injuries on the way to the Cup

Hawks fight through injuries on the way to the Cup
June 27, 2013, 5:15 pm
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The injury roundup read like a list from a hospital: a broken rib or wrist here, a sprained knee there, a disc pinching a nerve to such an extent that it caused a right foot to go completely numb.

By the way, how do you play with a broken rib, anyway?

“Advil. Lots of Advil,” said Andrew Shaw, the guy who played with a broken rib since Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings two series ago. He also had a black eye and a very swollen right side of his face, thanks to a shot he took off it. “You do what you’ve got to do, I guess. The adrenaline helps take the edge off. But the mornings after games is when you really feel it.”

Such is the life of a postseason hockey player: you gotta play hurt, or at least that’s the expectation. Perhaps it’s a badge of honor to say you went through an injury that would normally sideline you in the regular season. It’s likely more because it’s the Stanley Cup, and the desire to win it blocks out the pain you go through to do so. Whatever it is, the Chicago Blackhawks had several guys dealing with some serious injuries, but most should be able to avoid postseason surgery.

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For Marian Hossa, surgery is a possibility. The right wing suffered a disc injury in his back in Game 2 of the Cup final against the Boston Bruins. Hossa said a nerve was pressing to the point that his right foot was numb. That explained why he couldn’t play in Game 3, and why he was functioning at a pretty low percentage when he returned for Game 4.

“I may need surgery or another shot. I’ll talk to (team physician) Dr. Michal Terry and try to make the best decision,” said Hossa, who knows he was nowhere near his usual form in Games 4, 5 and 6. “I don’t know if I was too effective; I was just limping on the ice. I didn’t have as much confidence because everyone was so much faster. I wasn’t confident in doing the things I usually do. But the coaches told me to play my game defensively, so I just tried to stick with it.”

Meanwhile, Bryan Bickell suffered a right knee sprain in Game 5 against the Los Angeles Kings that was so bad, coach Joel Quenneville was uncertain the forward could even play any games in the Final.

“It’s just something you have to battle through,” he said. A lot of guys were fighting injuries, and it was the Final. You do whatever it takes.”

Everyone did, basically, on both teams. The Blackhawks came through the first three rounds relatively unscathed but the injuries cropped up in a physical final against the Bruins. Dave Bolland said he had groin and wrist issues. Michal Handzus had “one, two or three issues,” according to coach Joel Quenneville, which reportedly included a broken wrist; Handzus didn’t want to talk about his injuries. Quenneville said Johnny Oduya was also “more banged up than others, too.” Brent Seabrook said he played hurt, but wouldn’t specify what was hurt.

Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron’s injury count was massive and included a hole in his lung that team officials believe happened after Game 6. Still, his slew of pains – a broken rib, torn cartilage and a separated shoulder – could make even the most stoic player wince.

“I saw him give the interview listing all the injuries. I was waiting for him to stop and he kept going,” said Patrick Sharp, who still had that nagging shoulder injury that cost him so many games this regular season, but that didn’t affect him a ton in the postseason. “He played at a high level with all those injuries, too. That was pretty impressive. Hopefully he recovers and is ready to go next season.”

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Another guy who most thought was going through a decent injury, actually wasn’t. Jonathan Toews “got his bell rung” in Game 5, Quenneville said. But the coach said today that Toews was fine immediately after Game 5, felt much better heading into Game 6 and was “ready to go,” for that Cup-clinching game. Quenneville said there were “no concerns” when Toews suited up for Game 6.

It’s part of the NHL postseason, really: playing hurt, even almost playing maimed. It’s not easy, but for these guys, to have a chance at that silver, shiny Cup, it’s worth it.

“Yeah, it is,” Hossa said. “I know the health is so important; even when you retire you want to live a healthy life. But in these four years we have two Cups, which is amazing. I believe with the group we had here, it’s well worth it right now.”