MORRISSEY: Captain Toews needed to raise Cup
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org June 22, 2013 11:44PM
at Hawks 4
Bruins (3OT) 3
at Hawks (OT) 1GAME 3
at Bruins 2
at Bruins (OT) 5
at Hawks 3
7 p.m. Monday
at Bruins, Ch. 5
GAME 7 if necessary
7 p.m. Wednesday
at Hawks, Ch. 5
Updated: August 22, 2013 2:24AM
The Blackhawks have two games to win one Stanley Cup, perhaps with zero Jonathan Toewses.
So, yeah, feel free to choose between delicious nervousness and sheer terror, Hawks fans.
Your team is one game from winning the Cup, thanks to a 3-1 victory over the Bruins in Game 5 Saturday night at the United Center. That means they are this close and miles away from doing it. Getting the last victory of the season is the hardest thing to do in hockey. No, check that. Getting the last victory of the season without your best player is the hardest thing to do in hockey.
That could be where the Hawks find themselves after Toews took a brutal crosscheck to the neck/head from Johnny Boychuk in front of the Boston net late in the second period. Toews didn’t play in the third period. I wouldn’t wait around for injury information from Joel Quenneville, who would never betray the doctor-patient-coach-priest confidentiality contract.
“Upper body,’’ Quenneville disclosed, barely.
Toews sat on the bench during the third period. Teammate Patrick Sharp said Toews was cracking jokes, which makes me think it’s a head injury. For Captain Serious, concussion symptoms would include smiling, a devil-may-care attitude and thoughts that NHL should stop keeping score during games.
“We had an idea that he wasn’t going to return,’’ Sharp said. “We didn’t know he was coming back to the bench. It kind of gave us a lift to see him sitting there cheering us on.’’
Some of you selfishly would like to see the Hawks raise the Cup in Chicago after Game 7, on the hallowed frozen ground of the United Center, rather than in Boston after Game 6. But that’s not how it works in sports. That’s certainly not how it works in hockey, about as capricious a game as there is. If you get the chance to close the door, you lock it and shove a chair against the doorknob for good measure.
What happened to Toews was bound to happen because of the way he plays. The amount of energy he expends on the ice could power a Zamboni. On Patrick Kane’s first-period goal, Toews was all over the Bruins’ zone, battling for the puck here, getting his stick on it there. Kane tapped in the puck as it bounced in the crease, but it was Toews’ maniacal hustle that made it possible. It’s what separates him from so many other players.
Toews has no fear of the Bruins’ 6-9 defenseman, Zdeno Chara. Prudence and a long, happy life would suggest he should, but he doesn’t. He’ll dive into the corner to get to the puck, as he did in the first period. That’s what it takes to win in the NHL. Toews arrived in the league with that mentality. Most of the time, it serves him well. Saturday night, it gave him a seat on the Hawks’ bench.
You can’t help but wonder if his comments about Chara after Game 4 — “there’s certain ways you can expose him’’ — put a target on Toews’ back.
Boston has its own injury worries. Patrice Bergeron went to the hospital in an ambulance after getting hurt in the second period. You’ll never guess: The Bruins aren’t saying what the injury is.
Hawks goalie Corey Crawford was excellent, especially down the stretch, when the Bruins were sending wave after wave at the net and the Hawks seemed to be in an NFL-like prevent defense.
After the Hawks’ 6-5 Game 4 overtime victory, I got so tired of hearing about Crawford’s glove side that I longed to hear about his feminine side. There were too many knuckleheads making noise about the need for Ray Emery to ride to the rescue on his goalie stick. But cooler heads prevailed, which is to say heads with multiple brain cells prevailed.
“I knew he was going to come back huge,’’ defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said after Game 5.
So it’s all good now, right? The goalie’s back. You have your fingers crossed about the captain. Time to plan the parade route. Don’t get too ahead of yourself. It took a scoring flurry by the Hawks in Game 4 to get out of Boston with a victory. It will take a huge effort to get out of Boston with a Cup against a talented team like the Bruins.
“There’s no panic,’’ Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You’re not going to push us away that easily.’’
No, you’re not. Especially if the Hawks’ captain is still sitting on the bench.