BOSTON (Reuters) - Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and his Boston Bruins counterpart Claude Julien said on Monday they expected key injured players to be back in the lineup for Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final.
It will be all hands on deck Monday as the desperate Bruins, trailing the best-of-seven 3-2, attempt to force a Game Seven back in Chicago on Wednesday while the Blackhawks try to clinch their second Cup in four years with a victory on enemy ice.
The health of Chicago captain Jonathan Toews and Bruins’ most valuable player candidate Patrice Bergeron was the main talking point as teams went through their final preparations on a baking hot day in Beantown.
Bergeron, who has four goals in the Finals, did not take part in the morning skate with Swedish rookie Carl Soderberg slotted into his spot on a line between Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand.
A coy Julien, however, did not rule out the possibility that his top faceoff man would be on the ice for Game Six.
“Patrice will dress for warm-up tonight and I‘m feeling confident that he’ll play,” Julien told reporters.
The news was even more positive for the Blackhawks as Toews participated in Chicago’s skate, working between his usual partners Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell after missing the third period of Game Five following a thundering hit by Johnny Boychuk.
“He’s 100 percent ready to go,” declared Quenneville. “He felt fine yesterday, as well, so we were very encouraged heading into today. It’s good to know that he’s ready to go.”
Do-or-die scenarios are familiar to both teams after they pulled off Game Seven overtime escapes in earlier rounds to get to the Finals.
The Bruins can also draw on their experiences from 2011 when they were down 3-2 to the Vancouver Canucks and came back to lift the Stanley Cup.
”We’ve been knocked down so many times for all different reasons, but we’re very capable of bouncing back,“ said Julien. ”We know we can.
”Obviously there’s got to be a little bit more urgency, right? It’s a do-or-die.
“Just because we’re down 3-2, we haven’t lost the Cup yet, okay? We still have a chance to win it.”
Chicago, however, also knows how to deliver the knockout punch, winning a Game Six in Philadelphia in 2010 to claim their first Stanley Cup since 1961.
”I think those guys’ experiences from Philly a few years back can help the rest of the group that haven’t been in this position before,“ Quenneville said. ”I think it’s very beneficial.
”We look back, back in 2010 we were in the same situation.
”You want to make sure you have confidence going into today’s game, but let’s make sure the energy is in the right place.
“At the end of the day, we all dream about this challenge and this opportunity and let’s go take advantage of it.”
Editing by Larry Fine