BOSTON, MA - The Bruins are faced with a do-or-die situation at TD Garden tonight, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final. And fortunately, they'll likely have the heart and soul of the spoked-B in their lineup.
"Patrice will dress for warm-up tonight, and I'm feeling confident that he'll play," said B's Head Coach Claude Julien following the team's morning skate, that Bergeron did not take part in.
"He's been the glue for this hockey club for a long time," said veteran center Chris Kelly, of Bergeron, but later went on to talk about every player in their dressing room needing to step up.
"Every guy here needs to come out and have their best game, regardless of who's playing."
If Bergeron can't go, Carl Soderberg will likely take the alternate captain's spot centering Brad Marchand and Jaromir Jagr, as he did during pregame skate. Soderberg also filled in there Saturday night when Bergeron couldn't finish the game. Coach Julien has talked about how impressed he was with his play coming into game action after two months. I would expect that same confidence tonight.
Jay Pandolfo and Jordan Caron would also be options for Coach Julien to insert into the lineup. They both alternated taking rushes on the fourth line left wing with Rich Peverley at center and Shawn Thornton on the right wing. David Krejci's and Chris Kelly's lines stayed intact.
"I know Pandolfo is going to be in the warm-up tonight for sure. So is Caron. So we're going to have a few guys out there," said Julien. "And Bergeron is going to be out there, as well."
"If Bergeron can't go, then I have got some decisions to make. Again, there's a little bit more in the thought process than just picking a guy. I need to make decisions based on what the needs will be for tonight's game."
But Julien is expecting to make line combination decisions before puck drop, and leave it at that. If his players are ready to go, and everyone should be firing all cylinders, he said he shouldn't have to make too many in-game adjustments.
"I don't plan on getting to that point tonight. That's the way I have to think," said Julien of the possibility to juggle lines. "I think our guys will be ready to play. But if something like that happens, then I've got to make those decisions based on what I see or what's available."
"So it's easy to say mix and match, but you've got to have the right components together and you have to have the players available, so sometimes you want to move somebody else but you don't have anybody that's better in that situation."
"It's easier said than done, but as I said, I have confidence that our team will be a good team tonight."
Toews Ready to Go
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews did not play in the third period of Game Five, but today, after participating in his team's morning skate, he said he felt 100 percent.
"He's 100 percent ready to go," confirmed Chicago Head Coach Joel Quenneville. "It's good to know that he was able to play and practice this morning, as well. He felt fine yesterday, as well, so we were very encouraged heading into today's day. It's good to know that he's ready to go."
While the Bruins are hopeful Bergeron will be back, the Blackhawks are excited to know they'll have their Captain in the lineup.
"He's our leader and we're happy he's back and he can play," said forward Michael Frolik. "It's huge for us, and hopefully he can do his best tonight."
"It's an exciting day. You want to make sure that you're confident out there and play that way," said Quenneville, of his team's mindset. "You can't get ahead of yourself going into this game, and you've just got to get excited about your first shift. Then from there get excited about your next shift."
"It's something you dream about, so let's make sure we prepare the right way."
Backs Against the Wall
The Bruins have thrived in these situations over the years. They've never lost a series except in a Game Seven. They push themselves to the brink, and then still find something more to give.
They could be nervous and somewhat fearful in a do-or-die situation - instead, they get excited at the opportunity to still have a chance.
"We don't have a choice. You've got to go out there and play," said Julien. "And what you've got to do is be excited about this opportunity."
"I always say the same thing; there's 28 teams right now that wish they were in our position. Always take the positive out of everything. Just because we're down 3-2, we haven't lost the Cup yet, okay? We still have a chance to win it."
"It's about focusing on going out there and doing it - and having fun doing it."
Possible Boston Lineup
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron*-Jaromir Jagr
Daniel Paille-Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin
Carl Soderberg-Rich Peverley-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Projected Chicago Lineup
Bryan Bickell-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp-Michal Handzus-Marian Hossa
Brandon Saad-Andrew Shaw-Viktor Stalberg
Marcus Kruger-Dave Bolland-Michael Frolik
Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy-Michal Rozsival
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