MORRISSEY: Can Jonny come out to play?
BY RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com June 23, 2013 9:32PM
2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five
Updated: July 25, 2013 6:38AM
BOSTON — I don’t have the foggiest idea whether Jonathan Toews or Patrice Bergeron will be on the ice for their respective teams Monday night, and neither do you, unless you have access to private phone and Internet records for everyone nationally, which, come to think of it, you might.
But I love the cat-and-mouse game that has gone on during the buildup to what could be a Stanley Cup-clinching Game 6 for the Blackhawks.
Toews took a shot to the head or neck from Boston’s Johnny Boychuk late in the second period of Game 5 Saturday, wobbled off the ice and was an onlooker thereafter. If it looked like a brutal hit, it’s because it was, but that’s not how the NHL saw it. Boychuk and his dragging knuckles will be allowed to play Monday in Boston. No suspension. No fine. No nothing.
But will Toews play?
“[Toews] is doing much better,’’ Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday. “He’s progressed. We’re optimistic that he might be playing.’’
Optimistic that he might be playing. Hmmm. If you’re a Hawks fan, you can’t like the “might’’ part of that statement. Is Toews playing or is Quenneville playing mind games with Bruins coach Claude Julien? Who knows?
As for Bergeron, who knows, Part II. He had to be taken by ambulance to a Chicago hospital because of an unspecified injury during Game 5 and missed the last two periods. On Sunday, Julien said Bergeron was day-to-day. Asked whether the injury was an upper- or lower-body injury (or bigger than a breadbasket, for that matter), Julien responded with just about the best, coach-iest answer of all time.
“Body injury,’’ he said.
That rules out the out-of-body-experience injury.
If Toews suffered a concussion, I worry about him. That’s a big “if,’’ I know. But how much does the inbred, league-wide philosophy of playing through injury, especially in the playoffs, weigh in this situation? Even the post-Game 5 questions to Quenneville and Hawks players followed that narrative: Was the brave Toews begging to get back on the ice during Saturday’s victory? Being such a warrior, surely he did, right?
There is so much at stake for the Hawks because of who the injured player is. Toews makes everything and everybody go, mostly because he never stops going. He’s the one to dig the puck off the boards and set up a scoring opportunity. He’s the one who dives to the net without fear. He’s the one jostling in front of the net with Zdeno Chara, the Bruins’ high-rise of a defenseman.
He’s the one who makes Patrick Kane a better player.
“We’re different style players, but I think we complement each other very well,’’ Kane said. “We’ve played together for six years now. I know we didn’t play together very much this year, but throughout times in the past, you can look back at those times that we’ve had success. He’s a great player. He makes it easy to play hockey.’’
Would this be a good time to reiterate that the Toews kid and the Kane kid play well together on the same line? I think it would. Toews assisted on both of Kane’s goals Saturday night. Would it be piling on Quenneville to reiterate that the pair should have been together throughout this Final and not just the last two games? I don’t think it would.
Quenneville said he was interested in matchup possibilities when he separated Toews and Kane after they had played so well at the end of the Kings series. But if you think your top line is better than the Bruins’ top line and if you think you have the most depth in the league, why would you spend three games playing the master strategist?
The good news is that Quenne-ville finally got religion. Hallelujah.
The possible bad news is the injury to Toews. If he misses Game 6, look for the ranks of atheists to grow in Chicago.
The hope, of course, is that his symptoms will subside enough for him to play Monday and win another Cup. If you’re prone to pessimism, the disconcerting element here is that his injury was serious enough to keep him off the ice Saturday when it was a one-goal Stanley Cup Final game at the time. That doesn’t sound minor.
“He brings it every night, whether he’s scoring or not,’’ Kane said. “He’s still bringing the same competitiveness and leadership that we need. That’s one guy we’re not worried about.’’
At least not when he’s on the ice. When he isn’t, you worry. A lot.