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Wharnsby: Uncertainty surrounds Bergeron, Toews

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CHICAGO — Last week, the Stanley Cup final was all about the supporting cast. Now it’s all about the stars, especially injured, high-end players like Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.

They will be the primary storyline over the next 48 hours. Toews and Bergeron did not play a single shift in the third period of the Blackhawks’ critical 3-1 victory in Game 5 at the United Center on Saturday, and there is uncertainty surrounding their availability for Game 6 in

Boston on Monday (CBC,, 7:30 p.m. ET).

Neither Bruins head coach Claude Julien nor his Blackhawks counterpart Joel Quenneville revealed much to the nature of what happened to the two standouts.

But there is more mystery surrounding what Bergeron, who left the United Center in an ambulance for a nearby hospital to get checked over. He walked to the emergency vehicle under his own power, but how serious the injury was is not known. Julien would not even tell reporters whether the injury occurred on Saturday or in Game 4 last Wednesday.

There was speculation that Bergeron may have suffered a back ailment after he was knocked hard into the boards by Blackhawks fourth-liner Michael Frolik in Game 4. That’s why Julien decided to dress Carl Soderberg instead of Kaspars Daugavins. Soderberg, a 27-year-old NHL rookie, had only six games of NHL experience and hadn’t played since April 28, but the Swede can play centre.

When Bergeron, who only hopped over the boards for six minutes and six seconds of ice time, played his final shift of the game midway through the second period, it was mostly Soderberg who played between Bergeron’s linemates, Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand.

Toews hit by Johnny Boychuk

Toews suffered an upper-body injury just after Bergeron’s final shift of the game, when he was slammed to the ice by a high hit from Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk as the Chicago captain cut across the middle of the ice in the Boston end.

Toews played a few shifts after that hit in the second period, but with his club in front 2-0 after 40 minutes, he sat on the bench and cheered his teammates on in the third.

There was speculation that Boychuk could face supplementary discipline for his hit. But he caught Toews high because the latter was either off balance or dipped to avoid the blow. Boychuk was not worried about a possible suspension.

“No, I’m pretty sure it was clean,” he said.

It likely was a positive sign that Toews will play on Monday because he sat on the bench for the entire third period. Quenneville checked on Toews a couple of times during the final frame, but chose to keep his captain on the bench.

“It’s been a war,” Quenneville said. “It’s been a battle. It’s every game, every shift you’re fighting for every kind of shift around the ice. It’s a fast-paced game. You look at every minute from Game 1 to where we’re at today, it’s been an amazing series, and relentless hockey, and I commend the guys on both teams for leaving it out on the ice.

Different heroes emerging

This series began with colourful Andrew Shaw in the role of hero with the triple-overtime game winner for the Blackhawks in the series opener. Then it was Daniel Paille for the Bruins with back-to-back game-winning goals.

But as the Stanley Cup final has evolved it’s become all about the stars. Patrick Kane has found his scoring touch since being reunited with Toews and Bryan Bickell. He slid undetected toward the crease to score both of his goals in Game 5.

Kane scored three goals in the last two games, and he’s very good at kind of finding those quiet areas and sliding into the right spot,” Julien said. “That’s why he’s a good player and scores a lot of goals. We just maybe have to have a little bit more awareness around our net because both goals were scored the same way.”

The key players on the Boston side have struggled. All of a sudden, the productive line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton has been quiet, and captain Zdeno Chara has been on the ice for seven goals in the last two games. But it hasn’t been all Chara’s fault. His regular partner Dennis Seidenberg has been horrible, and that’s why Julien split the two up in the third period.

Maybe it’s a good sign for their the next game. The Bruins not only had a strong third period, but that Krejci set up Chara for Boston’s lone goal of the night. Maybe they’re going to be the next high-end players to step up in Game 6.

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