Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said captain Jonathan Toews was feeling better a day after he was leveled on a high, hard hit against the Boston Bruins.
However, Quenneville stopped short of guaranteeing Toews would play Monday in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Hawks lead the Bruins, 3-2, and could clinch the Stanley Cup with a win in Boston’s TD Garden.
“Johnny is doing much better today,” Quenneville told reporters Sunday in Boston. “He’s progressed. We’re optimistic that he might be playing [Monday] night.”
Although Toews has scored only two goals in 22 playoff games, no player is more important to the Hawks. Toews is the Hawks’ best option on faceoffs and provides stingy defense against opposing forwards as the 2013 Frank J. Selke Trophy winner.
That said, it makes sense for the Bruins to target the Hawks’ captain. Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk was not penalized on the hit, but replays showed Boychuk lifting his gloves and hitting Toews on the side of the head.
“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 [with] a big hit. The first part of contact you could talk about, but I’m not going to go there.”
Hawks forward Patrick Sharp has had several recent run-ins with Boychuk.
“I seemed to get messed up against Boychuk quite a bit in this series,” Sharp said. “He’s taken some runs at me. I can’t really complain how he’s hit me. He plays the game hard. He’s pretty honest.
“I think, every series we’ve been a part of, things get a little bit more intense as they go along – a lot more trashing talking, physical play on both sides.”
Also hurting: Bruins center Patrice Bergeron is a question mark for Game 6 after he reportedly was hospitalized Saturday night in Chicago because of an injury.
Bruins coach Claude Julien offered few details when asked about Bergeron’s status.
“He’s day-to-day,” Julien said. “Well, isn’t that good enough? Day-to-day.”
Did Bergeron sustain an upper-body injury or lower-body injury?
“Body injury,” Julien said.
Getting better: Speaking of body injuries, Hawks forward Marian Hossa has played with one (an upper-body injury, to be slightly more specific) during the series.
Hossa, who missed Game 3 because of his injury, has no goals in the Stanley Cup Final after scoring seven goals in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
“He’s getting better, and we expect him to play,” Quenneville said.