Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews didn't play in the third period of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night in Chicago, leaving his status in question for Game 6 in Boston on Monday night. As it stands, the Hawks are hopeful their captain will be ready to go.
"Johnny is doing much better today," coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday. "He's progressed. We're optimistic that he might be playing [Monday] night."
That is music to Chicago's ears. The Hawks didn't say what exactly Toews was suffering from, but it's a pretty safe conclusion that it was not concussion-related, good news for Chicago after seeing the hit that he took from Johnny Boychuk in Game 5. That violent shot appeared to be the impetus for Toews being stapled to the bench in the third period. But if it were a concussion issue, he wouldn't have been on the bench, or at least that's how it's supposed to work.
As for the hit itself, there will be no supplemental discipline for Boychuk. Quenneville was asked on Sunday for his thoughts on the hit but didn't take the controversial bait.
"There wasn't a penalty on the play, and it was one of those hits in a tight area in front of the net," he said. "You can be vulnerable in that area, a big hit. The first part of contact you could talk about, but I'm not going to go there."
Just the same as the Bruins and Patrice Bergeron, the Blackhawks are keeping their collective breath held on this one. Toews might not be having the most productive postseason in terms of points, but he has otherwise been his usual stellar self.
An indication of that has been that anybody who has been on a line with him has broken out, and the Hawks have really been soaring in the past two games when Toews was put back with Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell. Their reunion was the turning point in this series, so getting that trio back out there together for a potential close-out game would be huge.
Toews has two goals and 10 assists this postseason, a victim of some bad luck with a 2.9 percent shooting percentage. He is still one of if not the most important player the Blackhawks have. Going into Boston is tough enough as it is; doing it without Toews would be that much harder. But the good news for Chicago is that it seems that won't be the case.