Blackhawks knew Jonathan Toews would be ready
BOSTON – Lord Stanley’s Cup was in the building.
Jonathan Toews was determined to be on the ice.
Two days after sustaining an upper-body injury that caused him to miss the third period of Game 5 against the Boston Bruins, the Blackhawks captain rejoined the top line alongside Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell. Toews said he was fully healthy but declined to discuss specifics about his injury.
“It was a couple hits that I took that I guess the coaches thought I wasn’t ready to play in the third period," Toews said after participating with his teammates in Monday’s morning skate at TD Garden. “Obviously, you always want to bounce back.
“It is a physical game. There are no worries there. The coaches were confident we could win the game while making sure I wasn’t risking anything. I feel 100 percent, and the coaches are aware of that.”
Toews, who has a history of concussions, left Game 5 shortly after he was leveled on a high, hard hit by Bruins forward Johnny Boychuk near the net. Toews played several shifts after the hit by Boychuk, who was not penalized on the play and avoided a fine or suspension from the league.
Teammates said they never doubted that Toews would play in Game 6.
“Deep down, I knew he’d play,” Hawks forward Andrew Shaw said before the game. “He’s a great player. He’s a great competitor. He’s a huge leader.”
Shaw said plenty of Hawks players battled through injuries as they approached their ultimate goal. Hours later, Shaw took a puck off of the face and stayed down on the ice, where he left a pool of blood as he got to his feet and slowly skated to the bench.
“I think anyone would [do] the same – a chance to win the Cup,” Shaw said. “Obviously, there’s got to be a lot of things wrong with you if you don’t want to play in that game.”
Deep breath: Hawks rookie Brandon Saad tried to harness his nervous energy Monday morning while he considered the fact that the Stanley Cup would be in TD Garden for Game 6.
“It’s exciting,” said Saad, who will not turn 21 years old until October. “A little bit nerve wracking. But talking to some of the guys helped calm me, and we’re all looking forward to getting it going.”
Saad is not alone. Even some of the oldest Hawks players battle jitters.
Thirty-six-year-old center Michal Handzus said nerves were normal at this time of year.
“You always get nervous a little bit,” said Handzus, a veteran of 950 career NHL games. “It’s nature. Anybody who doesn’t, I don’t know how they can do it.
“But it’s still the game. You always go back to when you started playing when you were young. Just have fun. Enjoy being with your teammates. Enjoy the moment.”
Good talk: The Hawks gathered for a team meeting Sunday night to prepare for Game 6.
Although the message was simple – stay focused, be confident – it helped some of the players who were not a part of the Hawks’ championship run in 2010.
“Those guys said just play the game,” Frolik said. “Do the same thing like you did before. Play with confidence, and don’t be scared. Just play the game.”