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Blackhawks’ top line breaks down Bruins defense at crucial moments 06.25.13 at 2:18 am ET
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Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell prevailed over the Bruins defense in Game 6. (AP)

With less than two minutes remaining in Game 6 and the Bruins protecting a 2-1 lead, the time had come for both Boston and Chicago to do what they’d been known for this postseason: For the former, play airtight defense. For the latter, cut to the net and find a way to make something happen on offense.

In the end, it was the unstoppable force of Chicago’s scorers that budged the once-immovable Bruins defense, scoring a goal against each of the Bruins’ top two defensive pairs in the game’s final 90 seconds to secure the Stanley Cup victory.

Patrick Kane lifted the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff MVP, earning it with nine goals and 10 assists (second only to David Krejci in points). But it was his whole line, with Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell, that exploited the crack they saw in the B’s defensive zone coverage as regulation slipped away.

After Kane took a shot from the left faceoff dot, Toews grabbed the puck when it came out of a scrum low in the Bruins’ zone and found Bickell in front of the net. Zdeno Chara was between Toews and Bickell, but couldn’t react fast enough to pick off the pass or tie up Bickell. He was still turning to face Bickell as the winger fired over Tuukka Rask to tie the game with 1:16 remaining.

Much was made of Toews’ low point totals throughout the playoffs, but his puck possession numbers in the postseason were impressive. His on-ice Corsi number, which measures the number of shots the Hawks generated compared to their opponents when he was on the ice, was 28.15 per 60 minutes, best in the playoffs, entering Game 6.

Whenever Joel Quenneville played Toews with Kane and Bickell — in Detroit and Los Angeles, as well as in Boston — the results came for the line, if not always for the captain. In the Finals, once the line was reunited in Game 4, it combined for six goals in three games.

“He had a monster game,” Quenneville said of Toews, whose health had been in question after Game 5. “He was fine. He looked ready to go at the end of the last game, and I thought he looked very good yesterday and was ready to go last night and today. The bigger the game, the bigger the setting, you know what you’re going to get from Jonathan Toews. He just knows how to play hockey. Whether he’s productive or not, absorbs a lot of big minutes from their match-up guys and he never gets outscored. His production sometimes gets criticized.  The one thing is he plays the way you want a hockey player to play, and our captain, as well.”

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Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron both expected to play Game 6 06.24.13 at 11:59 am ET
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Patrice Bergeron

Things are looking up for a couple of banged-up Selke winners, as Bruins coach Claude Julien said in French after Monday’s morning skate that Patrice Bergeron “will play” Game 6 after leaving Game 5 with an undisclosed injury, while Jonathan Toews skated Monday for the Blackhawks and told reporters he’ll play as well.

Bergeron was not on the ice for morning skate, but Julien gave the encouraging update following his absence.

“Patrice will dress for warmup tonight,” Julien said. “I’m feeling confident he will play.”

Asked the same question in French, Julien responded (translated), “Patrice will play tonight.”

Both Jay Pandolfo and Jordan Caron took turns on the fourth line in morning skate, with Soderberg centering the second line in Bergeron’s absence. Julien said that if Bergeron is out and Soderberg plays on the second line, he will have decisions to make on the fourth line. As such, both Pandolfo and Caron will both take part in the warmup.

On the Blackhawks’ end of things, Toews took part in morning skate, two days after the Chicago captain missed the third period of Game 5 following a hit from Johnny Boychuk. Marian Hossa, who missed Game 3 but has played the last two games, was not on the ice for morning skate. Hossa’s absence shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he has missed morning skates despite remaining in the Blackhawks’ lineup.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Joel Quenneville: ‘Optimistic’ Jonathan Toews plays Game 6 06.23.13 at 5:44 pm ET
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Jonathan Toews (center) was injured in Game 5 after being hit by Johnny Boychuk. (AP)

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.
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Jonathan Toews knocked out of Game 5 by Johnny Boychuk at 5:42 am ET
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Johnny Boychuk. (AP)

CHICAGO — The NHL may be looking into discipline against Johnny Boyhuck for his second period hit on Jonathan Toews that knocked out the Blackhawks captain out of the third period of Game 5 Saturday night.

Toews played the rest of the second period and was on the bench for the third period but did not play in the final 20 minutes. Chicago coach Joel Quennville said Toews was “day-to-day” with an upper-body injury.

The Department of Player Safety reviews every hit, so league officer Brendan Shanahan, who was in attendance in the press box, will no doubt take a look.

Rick Nash hit Tomas Kopecky with a similar shot in March and was not disciplined. Given Boychuk’s reputation for delivering hard but clean hits, it’s likely Boychuk will be exonerated and will be on the ice for Game 6 at TD Garden Monday night.

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Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane bury pucks at last as Hawks score six 06.20.13 at 1:31 am ET
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Patrick Kane (left) and Jonathan Toews broke through against the Bruins in Game 4. (AP)

Of the Blackhawks’ seven highest scorers this postseason, just one — Patrick Sharp — had a goal in the first three games of the Stanley Cup finals. That changed significantly on Wednesday in Game 4, when the Hawks battered Tuukka Rask with 47 shots and two of the ones that went in came, finally, from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

Possibly the most notable name on the scoresheet Wednesday was Toews, who hadn’t put the puck in the net since May 25 against Detroit in the conference semifinals. Toews gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead in the second period when he tipped a Michal Rozsival shot past Rask, breaking a 10-game drought.

“The last couple of days, [Brent] Seabrook has been coming up to me, asking me what I’m thinking about. You know, I have to give him the right answer,” Toews said, cracking a smile. “I’m thinking about scoring a goal. He’s been trying to help me out, make me think a little bit better, have those positive thoughts. You work hard, eventually you’re going to find a way.”

Toews was reunited with Kane and Bryan Bickell, with whom he’s had success this spring, in Game 4 after starting Game 3 between Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger. In addition to Toews’ goal, Kane put away a backhander in the second period and set up Seabrook’s overtime game-winner, and Bickell assisted on both Kane’s and Seabrook’s goals. The three of them combined for 11 shots.

“I like that line,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of the trio. “Big picture, getting reunited, they seem to have some chemistry. Scoring certainly helps. But, you know, got a little bit of difference – everybody in that line brings something different to the party. [Bickell] off the rush can shoot. Kaner has possession. Jonny gets through. It’s a nice combination. So it was nice to see them back and productive, too.”

Having Marian Hossa, who was tied for the team lead in playoff points entering Game 4, back in the lineup didn’t hurt. With Toews, Kane and Bickell back together, Hossa skated with Michal Handzus and Sharp, giving the Hawks two lines with a significant scoring punch. Handzus and Sharp each chipped in a goal, and Sharp had a game-high eight shots.

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Jonathan Toews: ‘We treated it as a Game 7. We weren’t going to be denied’ at 1:19 am ET
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Jonathan Toews celebrates his first goal of the Stanley Cup finals. (AP)

The captain of the Chicago Blackhawks knew what was at stake Wednesday night in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Bruins. Jonathan Toews also knew that coming in, he had no points in the series so far.

When he scored 6:33 into the second period, the Blackhawks had a 2-1 lead and he was finally off the schneid. This was significant because just hours earlier he said he — as captain — needed to be more accountable. He was able to laugh about the irony and the foreshadowing of his comments when teammate Brent Seabrook ended the game at 9:51 of overtime, giving Chicago a 6-5 win and evening the series, 2-2.

“Absolutely, I think it makes a world of difference for you when you finally see one go in,” Toews said. “I’ve got to say this, the last couple days Seabrook has been coming up to me, asking me what I’m thinking about. You know, I have to give him the right answer. I’m thinking about scoring a goal (smiling).

“He’s been trying to help me out, make me think a little bit better, have those positive thoughts. You work hard, eventually you’re going to find a way. Tonight was one of those games, we treated it as a Game 7. We weren’t going to be denied.”

Toews said he felt the same about his offense.

“It’s time to put all those other games behind us, the games where we struggled to score, forget about it, just find a way to do what you do. It was fun to see the puck go in as often as it did tonight.”

Toews was so relieved he forgot what game of the series came next.

“We know we can be better defensively. But we’ll use that confidence and try our best to pounce on them in Game 6 here — Game 5, sorry. Getting ahead of myself (laughter).

As for Seabrook, this was the second huge overtime game-winning goal, as he ended the Western semis series against Detroit with a Game 7 OT goal.

“I mean, we just want to win games. At this point of the season, it’s down to best-of-three. We want to win games, find a way to win ‘em any way we can. Obviously, we like when we’re playing with speed, trying to play a puck-possession game, get down low, create chances. That’s when we’re playing at our best.

“Both these guys have been saying we got to be better defensively, as well. We’ve got to be prepared to win a game 1-0 or 2-1. That’s what it’s got to come down to. Boston is a great team. They play a solid style of play. We’re going to have to shore up our D zone and be better at that.”

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What they’re saying in the Windy City: Tuukka Rask is really good, Bruins are outhitting Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews needs to step it up 06.17.13 at 1:09 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask continues to be stellar in the Boston goal. (AP)

Chicago sportswriters realized over the weekend what Bruins fans have known for quite some time: Tuukka Rask is really, really good.

Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune writes that Rask has been the Bruins’ “saving grace,” his 1.73 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in the playoffs a huge reason the Bruins have gotten this far. She credits Rask, who collected 33 saves Saturday’s Game 2 overtime win, with preventing the game from “spinning wildly out of the Bruins’ control.”

Count Tyler Seguin among those appreciative of the netminder’s performance.

“He shows on a consistent basis why we have so much confidence in him, but he also gives us more motivation to do it for him sometimes,” Seguin said. “Especially if you look at [Saturday's] game, it could have been 4-0 or 5-0 after the first. We weren’t ready. We were on our heels, and they were playing great. He kept us in the game.”

Kane quotes Rask, however, as staying his usual, humble — albeit tired after not sleeping much Saturday night — self.

“I don’t try to prove anything to anybody else but for myself and my teammates,” Rask said. “I always feel like I’m in a zone. … It’s nothing different. It’s just another game.”

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