BOSTON – Two nights ago, the Blackhawks and Bruins’ top centers were hurt. One headed to the hospital, one sat on the bench the final 20 minutes but didn’t play.
Now it looks like they’re both set for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Jonathan Toews said he feels “100 percent” and he’ll play tonight, while Patrice Bergeron’s coach said he was “confident” the Bruins’ center would play as Chicago and Boston square off in Game 6 tonight at TD Garden. For Toews, who participated in this morning’s skate, there’s no doubt he’s ready to go for tonight.
“I feel good. I think coaches were just being cautious not letting me get back on the ice the third period the other night. I’m ready to go and ready to play tonight,” said Toews, who added this morning’s skate was a good one. The way I felt out there, I’d say it was the best morning skate I’ve had all series,” he said. “No question where I am physically.”
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There was definitely some question following Game 5. Toews came out a few moments after the third period started, but he didn’t play the remainder of the game. He took several big hits in that game, including one from Johnny Boychuk late in the second period. When asked if he sustained a head injury, Toews said, “I’m not going to get into what the injury was.”
“There were a couple of hits I took that, I guess, the coaches didn’t think I was ready in the third period. It was a physical game. But to me, there are no worries there,” Toews said. “The coaches were confident that we could win while making sure I wasn’t risking anything. Whether it’s the coaches or the training staff who don’t think you’re ready, they’re going to draw the line, and that’s what happened.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said, “it's good to know that he was able to play and practice this morning, as well. He felt fine yesterday so we were very encouraged heading into today's day. It's good to know that he's ready to go.”
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For the Blackhawks, Toews’ return is an obvious lift.
“Deep down, we knew he’d play,” Andrew Shaw said. “He’s a great player, a great leader. He knows we need him out there.”
Meanwhile, although Bergeron didn’t skate with his team this morning, Bruins coach Claude Julien likes Bergeron’s chances of playing tonight.
“Patrice will dress for warm-up tonight, and I'm feeling confident that he'll play,” Julien told the media today.
Each team gets its top center back. We’ll see how much each is truly “back” tonight.