The Blackhawks take a 3-2 series lead over the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final, Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews injured, the Avalanche could select Nathan MacKinnon first overall in next weekend’s draft, a fuzzy draft picture for the Lightning, and an update on the Coyotes.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES/BOSTON GLOBE: Patrick Kane scored twice and Corey Crawford silenced his critics with 24 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins 3-1 to take a 3-2 series lead back to Boston for Game Six on Monday, and a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
Both teams paid a stiff price in this game, as Bruins star center Patrice Bergeron left the game via ambulance with a possible spleen injury, while Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews spent the third period on the bench after being rocked late in the second period by a high hit from Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk. The NHL is reviewing that hit, meaning Boychuk might face a suspension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The hit on Toews was in my opinion a borderline high hit, as it didn’t appear to me Boychuk targeted Toews head, but there’s no question the result knocked Toews out of the game. It remains to be seen what, if anything, the league does.
Benching Toews appeared a coaching decision, as cameras at one point in the third caught the Blackhawks captain pleading with coach Joel Quenneville to let him play a shift. Toews celebrated his team’s victory on the ice following the game, so perhaps this was more precautionary on Quenneville’s part to ensure his captain would be physically able to play Game Six.
At least there’s a possibility Toews could play on Monday. Bergeron’s injury appears more serious. At first it seemed like he suffered a leg injury, but following his final two shifts he seemed to be struggling to breath, which suggested a rib injury. If it’s his spleen, his playoffs are over, as that’s what also sidelined Peter Forsberg during the 2001 Stanley Cup playoffs. That would be a serious blow for the Bruins, as he’s been their clutch scorer and top faceoff man throughout the 2013 postseason.
It’s also apparent over the past two games the Blackhawks have wrested control of the tempo of this series away from the Bruins. In Games Two and Three, the Bruins were dominating the Blackhawks with their stifling, physical defensive play, but in Games Four and Five, the ‘Hawks have used their speed advantage to generate quality scoring chances, driving hard to the net and getting traffic in front of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. The Bruins top shutdown defense pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg have struggled over the past two games, with the bulk of the Blackhawks goals in those games coming when they’ve been on the ice. If the Bruins can’t find a way to blunt the Blackhawks speed and regain control of this series, it will be all over on Monday night.
DENVER POST: If the Colorado Avalanche retain this year’s first overall pick, it’s expected they’ll select Halifax Mooseheads star center Nathan MacKinnon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If they do select MacKinnon, they’ll have a logjam of centers, as they already carry Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny, so someone will have to move if, as expected, MacKinnon’s cracks the Avs roster this fall.
They can’t move O’Reilly until next February, one year from the date they matched his offer sheet from the Calgary Flames. Stastny, entering the final year of his contract and eligible for UFA status, seems the likely trade candidate, but he’s also earning over $6 million next season, which might be tough to move. Duchene would attract considerable interest in the trade market, and might even fetch a good young defenseman, but I don’t think the Avs are keen to move him.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Damian Cristodero reports the possibility of the Avalanche passing on defenseman Seth Jones creates the possibility he could be available for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who hold the third overall pick in this year’s draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I realize the Lightning have to consider the future without Martin St. Louis within the next five years, but the Bolts need depth on defense, and Jones could become the puck-moving blueline star they need.
USA TODAY: July 2 is now the key date for the vote by the Glendale City Council on an arena lease agreement with the prospective buyers of the Phoenix Coyotes.