|Joel Quenneville: ‘Optimistic’ Jonathan Toews plays Game 6||06.23.13 at 5:44 pm ET|
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|
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.
|Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane bury pucks at last as Hawks score six||06.20.13 at 1:31 am ET|
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.
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.”
|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|
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.’
|Matchups, smatchups: Claude Julien not worried about Blackhawks lines||06.12.13 at 2:14 pm ET|
CHICAGO — Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville appears set to keep Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane separated to begin the Stanley Cup finals, but the Bruins are confident they’ll be able to deal with the spread-out star power.
As Kane said Tuesday, the Blackhawks have a strong top six regardless of whether Toews and Kane are together. If they’re on different lines, that means Toews is playing with Marian Hossa, so the Bruins will have their hands full either way. Claude Julien is confident the B’s can match up with the Blackhawks no matter what Quenneville throws at them.
“It doesn’t,” Julien said when asked about how Quenneville’s new lines impacts their preparations. “We just have to react to it in a way whoever is on the ice. Whoever is on the ice has to be aware of the other team’s players on the ice.
“In our system, everybody knows our game without the puck is important. I think that’s what has gotten us this far, we’ve respected that, back’checked. Our numbers coming back have continued. Whether I have my fourth line out,you can talk about like [Chris] Kelly and [Daniel] Paille, I don’t think anybody is worried about their game defensively, and Shawn Thornton who has done a great job on that line as well. There’s a lot of trust in our coaching staff when those guys are out there, even when they put a top line on.”
The guess here is that Julien will counter the Sharp-Toews-Hossa line with the Zdeno Chara–Dennis Seidenberg pairing and the David Krejci line, while putting the Patrice Bergeron line and Andrew Ference–Johnny Boychuk pairing against the Bickell-Handzus-Kane line. Of course, look for Julien to find ways to get Chara out there against both lines whenever he can. Julien matches lines as well as anybody in the business, but at the end of the day it’s Chara who makes the biggest impact in matchups.
“That’s why I talk about the matchups up front. Not the end of the world,” Julien said. “You’ll probably see, as every other series, our back end matches up a little more aggressively than our front end.
“Joel already knows that, too, by the way.”
|Blackhawks break up Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in practice||06.11.13 at 12:56 pm ET|
CHICAGO — Though the Bruins aren’t here yet, the Blackhawks kicked off Media Day by giving the media plenty to work with. Coach Joel Quenneville shuffled his lines in practice, most notably splitting up Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
The two were put together with Bryan Bickell in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, but the lines in Tuesday’s practice were as follows:
Sharp – Toews – Hossa
Bickell – Handzus – Kane
Saad – Boland – Shaw
Bollig – Kruger – Frolik
Keith – Seabrook
Oduya – Hjalmarsson
Leddy – Rozsival
In Games 4 and 5 against Los Angeles, Chicago’s top-six looked like this:
Bickell – Toews – Kane
Sharp – Handzus – Hossa
The Bruins are expected to be at the United Center sometime around 2:30 CST.