BLACKHAWKS at BRUINS
(Chicago leads best-of-7 series, 3-2)
TV: NBC, CBC, RDS
Big story: It has taken three calendar years and four NHL seasons for the Chicago Blackhawks to work their way back to this point. The Blackhawks also led the 2010 Stanley Cup Final 3-2 after five games before wrapping up the franchise's first NHL championship in 49 years by beating the host Philadelphia Flyers in overtime of Game 6.
This time, Game 6 will be held on Monday (8 p.m. ET) in a different location (TD Garden), but the Blackhawks again find themselves feeling good with two cracks at winning the Stanley Cup - a potential Game 7, if necessary, would be at United Center on Wednesday night.
Patrick Kane, who clinched that 2010 title with the OT goal, scored twice on Saturday night to in Chicago's 3-1 Game 5 victory at United Center, and the Windy City is all puffed up with anticipation about another possible Stanley Cup celebration.
There's just one problem, and it's a big one. The Boston Bruins are no strangers to getting off the mat to steal a series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and they're focused on doing it again to the Blackhawks - with or without injured star center Patrice Bergeron, who was taken by ambulance to a Chicago hospital during Game 5 for observation and diagnosis.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews also got hurt in the game and spent the entire third period sitting on the bench, which adds even more intrigue to an already memorable Cup Final series.
Blackhawks: Toews said Monday that he's 100 percent healthy and will be ready when the puck drops. He sat out the third period Saturday night with what coach Joel Quenneville called an upper-body injury. Toews took several hard hits, including an elbow to the head by Chara and a crushing blow from Johnny Boychuk as the Chicago captain zipped into the low slot on his way to the front of the net. Toews sat on the bench for the entire third period, talking with teammates, and joined them after the game for the team's traditional postgame on-ice salute to their fans.
"It was a couple hits that I took that I guess the coaches thought I wasn't ready to play in the third period," Toews said Monday while declining to discuss the specifics of the injury. "Obviously you always want to bounce back. It is a physical game. There are no worries there. The coaches were confident we could win the game while making sure I wasn't risking anything. I feel 100 percent and the coaches are aware of that."
The Blackhawks also expect to have Marian Hossa available; he missed Game 3 with an upper-body injury and has been gutting it out since returning for Game 4.
Bruins: Bergeron sat out the morning skate on Monday, but he's expected to be ready by game time.
"Patrice will dress for warm-up tonight and I'm feeling confident that he will play," coach Claude Julien said following the morning skate.
Bergeron missed all but 49 seconds of the last two periods on Saturday night, and the Bruins missed him in almost every way imaginable. They were forced to move untried rookie Carl Soderberg into his slot in the middle of the second line and would up losing 33 of 57 faceoffs, the first time in the series they'd won less than 50 percent of the draws. Boston managed only a third-period goal by Zdeno Chara after scoring five times in Game 4.
"I think we're all hopeful right now that Patrice is going to be in there," said veteran forward Jay Pandolfo, who could get the call if Bergeron can't play. "If he's not, then other guys are going to have to go in and do the job. If I got the chance, I'd be confident. I've played in these situations before. The biggest thing for me is just stay ready. You never know what is going to happen."
Who's hot: Just as he did in the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings, Kane has responded strongly to criticism following a loss in Game 3 of a playoff series. He has scored three goals in the past two contests and now has nine in the playoffs for the Blackhawks.
Injury report: In addition to Bergeron's injury, Boston forward Gregory Campbell (broken leg) is out for the rest of the postseason and right wing Nathan Horton is playing through an upper-body injury. … The Blackhawks expect that Hossa and Toews will be ready to go.