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Joel Quenneville: ‘Optimistic’ Jonathan Toews plays Game 6

06.23.13 at 5:44 pm ET
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The hit on Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews from Johnny Boychuk in the second period was substantial enough that it knocked his head to the ice and knocked him out of action for the third period of Saturday’s 3-1 Chicago win that puts the Blackhawks one win from the Stanley Cup.

It was so hard that it put Toews’ availability in question for Monday’s Game 6 immediately after the Chicago win.

But – as was the case with Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins – there was encouraging news Sunday from the Blackhawks camp that Toews will indeed be able to play Monday night.

“Johnny is doing much better today,” Quenneville said at TD Garden as the Blackhawks arrived back in Boston. “He’s progressed. We’re optimistic that he might be playing [Monday] night.

Bruins coach Claude Julien made it clear that he felt the league got it right by not deciding to discipline Boychuk for the hit. Quenneville, while supporting his player, understood the leniency shown by the league.

“There wasn’t a penalty on the play, and it was one of those hits in a tight area in front of the net,” Quenneville said. “You can be vulnerable in that area, a big hit. The first part of contact you could talk about, but I’m not going to go there.”

Toews scored his first goal of the series in Game 4, a tally that seemed to spark him as he was re-united with Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell on Chicago’s top line. Saturday night, he assisted on both of Patrick Kane‘s goals before coming out of the game after the second-period hit form Boychuk.

Toews has two goals and 10 assists in the playoffs so far for Chicago.

Here is the remainder of Joel Quenneville’s press conference from Sunday in Boston:

Q. When you’re this close, is it difficult at all to sort of pace your players through those last two days and keep them from getting too excited too soon?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Yeah, I think it’s a fun time. The process of getting this far, it makes it all worthwhile along the way. There’s some highs, there’s some lows, there’s some excitement, there’s some great days, there’s some tough days, and the one thing you don’t want to get ahead of yourself in the process. We’ve got some guys that have been there. They know the experience. They know the thinking going into a day like today and going into tomorrow’s day, as well. We’ll visit with that as a team. There’s some guys that they’re so excited. You dream about this moment. But at the same time we’ve got to keep everything in perspective. We want to make sure that we’re confident playing the game and putting yourself in the now position as opposed to ahead of yourself.

Q. What’s the protocol for you for Jonathan for tonight and tomorrow with pregame and then warm-ups as far as him playing or not playing is concerned?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Well, we’ll see how he is. I think the progress today, he’s doing real good. Nobody is on the ice today. We’ll visit in the morning, and he seemed fine. So nothing has changed. Nothing is different. We’ll keep an eye on him, and we’ll go from there.

Q. Do you see similarities between the depth players you had in 2010 and the depth players you have now? For instance, is Bickell Byfuglien? Is Oduya Campbell?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Kind of comparable. Very nice comparables when you go back to the impact Buf had in a couple of series and Bicks in a couple of series. Our back end we feel is a big improvement from the last couple years to this season. The depth of our defense has really been one of our significant areas of improvement as a team, and we think that depth has really helped us as we progress throughout the whole year. Adding a guy like Rozsival, Johnny Oduya at the end of last year, everybody playing significant minutes. I think that balance has really helped stabilize our team. I think any given night our penalty killing with Krüger and Fro, that pair has really helped us, and that group has been a real solid line for us all year. Kind of under the radar type of a line, but they’re very efficient defensively, and offensively they can be sneaky, as well.

I think the balance of our team gives us that depth that you look for because you don’t look for one group or one guy to get the production done for you, the job done. It looks like everybody is contributing, and that’s what teams are all about.

Q. Were you surprised by the success you guys have had against Zdeno Chara? He’s been on the ice for eight of the last nine goals scored.
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Well, it’s an ongoing challenge. That line obviously had a couple nice nights for us and pucks were going in around the net. Kaner had a nice couple finishes there last night. But you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities because you don’t get a ton of them. It’s like we always say, I don’t care who scores for us, I don’t care who’s on the ice for them. It’s just like we expect somebody has got to score for us, and we’re not choosey in that department.

Q. Just on the numbers alone, him being on the ice for eight of the last nine, is that kind of surprising considering his reputation?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Well, you know, we always find that in stretches of games, plus/minus over the course of a year, sometimes it can be flukey short-term, but we know what he’s capable of.

Q. Claude Julien said that his players are experienced. They know what to do tomorrow night. He doesn’t have to say too much to them. Is that pretty much the same in your dressing room?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Well, we’ve got more guys that haven’t been there, and I think the guys that have been there it’s relatively fresh in their minds, the experience. And I think that sharing that with the others is something we look forward to. Getting proper rest, proper focus, and like we said earlier, don’t get ahead of yourself, and bring that confidence to the game, and let’s be excited about the opportunity.

Q. It’s been a whirlwind since January 19th and maybe even a week or two before that. What’s it been like, this journey, you and your coaching staff until right now?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Well, it’s been a fun year. Our start to the season was one of those things that we didn’t expect anything like that to go on for that length. I think had a lot of confidence as we’ve grown all year long. Some of the areas that we wanted to improve upon, we met a lot of those goals. Whether it was keeping the puck out of our own net, getting our penalty killing much better, our power play in some stretches was up and down, but for the most part improved.

So it was a real fun year as far as meeting all our goals, going into the Playoffs on a good note. I thought this Playoff season we’ve had some highs and lows. The Minnesota series got our attention. I thought Detroit, talk about getting your attention when you’re on the road down three games to one. We were very fortunate in that series, as well. We’ve gotten better each and every round. And we have to be at our best against this team.

Q. Back to Chara, a couple of games ago Johnny said that he felt you guys could be physical with him and attack him. Claude was in here earlier and said it was pretty evident you guys were dumping the puck in his corner and trying to be physical. What did you see two games ago that made you see, yeah, we can be physical with this big guy?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Well, we’ve felt not so much being physical with him, but in the offensive zone, we needed to have better possession time and more time in their end, whether it was absorbing hits or finishing checks or going to hard areas and not necessarily worrying about him. I think it was getting to the net is our focus. That’s the area that we want to make sure we’re better at than we were in Game 3 in particular. I thought the last couple of games not so much worrying about the corners. It’s making sure that if you don’t have the puck get to the net.

Q. Duncan Keith what have you seen from him that allowed him to be successful?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: All year we’ve managed our minutes of our top guys through the regular season. As the Playoffs progressed here I think he’s picking up a lot more minutes. He’s one of those guys, he’s a workhorse and he doesn’t get fatigued or tired in the course of a game. He can play significant minutes without the wear and tear. Not that big of a guy that can normally get exposed to. But he just rolls with it and he wants more, and I think he’s been very effective.

Q. When you get to this point of the season, how much of the task is just finding a way to get to the finish line with the number of players on probably both teams that are pretty banged up?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Yeah, you touch wood sometimes knowing that, hey, you want to make sure that you’re going to have some issues. You’re going to have some good days and bad days in that department. You can’t forecast that. But everybody deals with some type of an issue. Everybody has got an ice bag here or there or everywhere. But they’ll do whatever it takes to get out on the ice. I think that being aware of what they’re capable of and trying to maximize their effectiveness and efficiency based on what they can give you.

Q. Brad Marchand had a bunch of goals for the Bruins two years ago in the Final. He also had a big impact on other ways. How much of your scouting report on him going into the series was maybe to avoid the other stuff with him?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Well, we always talk about playing within the whistles and playing hard. That’s basically what we’re all about and let’s make sure we’re smart. There’s some guys that can be disruptive and can get you off your game. But let’s make sure discipline and being focused and doing what we can do is what we talked about.

Q. I know that Marian played the last two games, but what is his status? Is he getting better? Is he more effective each game as we go along here?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: He’s getting better, and we expect him to play.

Read More: 2013 Stanley Cup, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews
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