The Stanley Cup will be at TD Garden on Monday night because the Chicago Blackhawks are one game away from clinching the series–and winning the title. They defeated the Boston Bruins on Saturday night 3-1 to take a 3-2 series lead.
The game was completely in Chicago’s favor from the beginning. In fact, it was very similar to Game 3 when Boston shut out Chicago. Boston was not in this game and did not play like it was a Stanley Cup Final game.
The defense was decent on both sides starting out and the first shot on goal, by Boston, was not recorded until 2:15 into the game. The shots on goal remained minimal. Something just appeared off with Boston and it looked like they were going to rely on their hits. For example, Chicago’s Jonathan Toews was hunched over, but Boston’s Zdeno Chara did not put any effort to raise his elbow. Instead, his elbow went straight into Toews’s head. The hits did not help Boston and with only 2:33 Patrick Kane scored to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. For the longest time Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville kept Toews and Kane off the same line, but only good things have happened since reuniting them in Game 4. It was Toews who kept the puck away from Boston’s Milan Lucic before handing it off to Johnny Oduya and Kane. It makes people in the hockey world wonder why it took Quenneville so long to put them on the same line.
The period ended with Chicago up 1-0. Even though they were the only team to show up, shots were in favor of Boston 11-8 and Chicago only had one more shot attempt, 17-16. Boston led in hits 23-9, but the physical game was obviously not helping them.
Only 49 seconds into the second period dual minors were delivered to both teams. The one on Michal Handzus is controversial. He was called for diving after Nathan Horton hooked him. It is controversial because he was already well hooked and the referees have allowed bigger penalties to go. Neither penalty affected the teams, but a few minutes later the Bryan Bickell-Toews-Kane line struck again. Bickell tried a wraparound, but it went off the side of the net and onto Kane’s puck to give them a 2-0 lead. The same line almost scored again with only 11:30 left to play, but Kane hit the post after a beautiful pass by Toews.
However, Toews was leveled by Boston’s Johnny Boychuck towards the end of the period. Boychuck claims it was a clean hit, but one can see it was an intentional hit to the head. CJ Fogler shared this gif and kindly gave Breitbart Sports permission to use it.
NHL Player safety will review the hit. After the game Quenneville said he is hopeful Toews will play in Game 6. Toews did not talk to reporters.
Toews was not on the Chicago bench for the first 30 seconds of the third period and remained on the bench the entire period. He was seen telling Quenneville to give him a shot, but the coach never considered it.
Chicago was not the only who suffered a loss. Boston’s star Patrice Bergeron, who is a favorite to win the Conn Smythe if Boston wins, was not on the bench to start the third period. While everyone was speculating about the injury, Chara scored a goal to make it 2-1. Then it was revealed Bergeron left the United Center in an ambulance. A stretcher was waiting for Bergeron, but he refused to use it. He walked to the ambulance on his own power. He will be evaluated overnight and no further details were revealed in the post game press conferences.
Dave Bolland sealed the game for Chicago with an empty net goal with 13.6 seconds left. Boston showed a little more fight in the third, but they could not put the puck passed Crawford. Boston ended up outshooting Chicago 31-25, but Chicago won 58% of the faceoffs.
Hopefully more information will be revealed about Bergeron and Toews. The teams without those players could change a game. Game 6 is Monday night in Boston at 8PM ET on NBC.