BOSTON — Jonathan Toews watched the end of the fifth game of the Stanley Cup Finals from the Chicago Blackhawks bench, unable to play after a hit to his head.
Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron was in a Chicago hospital after leaving the United Center by ambulance.
As the Finals approach a sixth and potentially clinching game tonight, the attention shifted from the players on the ice to the ones who might not make it there, including two of the top forwards and biggest stars in the series.
“It’s a tough sport, and injuries happen,” Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said. “When you leave it all out there to help your team win, that’s all part of the game.”
Bergeron was injured in the second period of Game 5 on Saturday night, which the Blackhawks won 3-1 to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
Toews, who won the Selke Award as the NHL’s top defensive forward — Bergeron was a finalist — missed the entire third period after a shot to the head.
“I can’t speak for what Boston is dealing with, with Bergeron. I know I don’t need to say much about Jonathan,” Chicago winger Patrick Sharp said. “I think everyone knows what we think of him in our locker room. Hopefully we can have him back for (tonight).”
Bergeron, who was taken to the hospital for observation, was released later Saturday night.
“He’s good. He came back with us and everything so hopefully he can play,” Bruins left winger Brad Marchand said. “He looked really good today. He had a nice suit on, very dashing. Obviously, he’s a big part of the team and hopefully he can play.”
The Blackhawks lost Toews after Johnny Boychuk knocked him down in the slot, making contact with his head. Boychuk wasn’t penalized, and NHL spokesman John Dellapina said yesterday that the league reviewed the hit and will not issue supplemental discipline.
“I think they said it was clean, wasn’t it? Then I agree with them,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said.
Toews was tied with Patrick Kane for the Blackhawks’ team lead with 23 goals during the regular season. Since being reunited with Kane on Chicago’s top line in Game 4, Chicago has rallied to take the lead in the best-of-seven series. Before he was knocked out of Game 5, Toews assisted on both of Kane’s goals.
“He’s our leader,” Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya said. “You know, he’s one of those guys, and when he’s full-speed he gives everything he’s got every game. That’s something that is tough to replace.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Toews was doing much better and the team is optimistic he will be able to play in Game 6.
With or without Toews and Bergeron, the Blackhawks have a chance to clinch their second Stanley Cup title in four seasons tonight. If they lose, the series returns to Chicago for a decisive seventh game on Wednesday.
And that, Julien said, is why he wasn’t worried about whether Toews will play or not.
“I think I should be looking in my backyard and make sure I’ve got my guys playing before I start worrying about the game plan with them,” he said.