Through five games, this has been one of the best Stanley Cup Finals in recent memory. Game 5 gave us another close, great game that had us on the edge of our seats right to the end. Unfortunately for the Bruins, it was the Blackhawks who came out on top for the second straight game to take a 3-2 series lead.
Patrick Kane opened the scoring late in the first when he picked up a deflected shot at the side of the net and snuck it inside the post. Kane struck again 5:13 into the second when he buried a rebound created by a Jonathan Toews wraparound attempt. The Bruins cut the lead to 2-1 early in the third when David Krejci fed Zdeno Chara for a one-timer from the left circle, but that was as close as they would get. Dave Bolland sealed the 3-1 Chicago victory with an empty-netter.
Here are five thoughts on Game 5.
1. Aside from who won, the biggest story Saturday night was that neither Patrice Bergeron nor Jonathan Toews finished the game. Bergeron appeared to suffer a non-contact injury early in the second period. He tried playing one more shift later in the period, but left the ice after 16 seconds and never came back. During the second intermission, Bergeron was taken to a local hospital. Toews appeared to get hurt late in the second when he took a high hit from Johnny Boychuk. Toews was on the Blackhawks’ bench for the entire third period, but he didn’t play a single shift.
Neither team’s coach had an update after the game, but Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that Bergeron may have suffered a spleen injury. Needless to say, Bergeron and Toews would be huge losses for their respective teams. They’re two of the best two-way centers in the game, and both are among the two or three most valuable players on their teams. If both are out for Game 6, it’s basically a wash, although Bergeron has been better in this series. If one plays and the other doesn’t, you’d have to give the advantage to whichever team has the one playing.
2. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg had another tough game defensively. After being on the ice for five of Chicago’s six goals in Game 4, that pairing was out there for each of Chicago’s first two goals on Saturday. The first one wasn’t really their fault. Seidenberg tried blocking a Johnny Oduya slap shot, but the shot broke his stick and the puck bounced right to Kane.
The second goal was entirely their fault, though. Toews took the puck behind the net and both Seidenberg and Chara started to chase him, leaving Kane wide open in front. Chara had been covering Kane, but switched off him as Toews wrapped around to his side of the ice. The problem was that Seidenberg didn’t switch from Toews to Kane, either because of a mental mistake or a miscommunication. Claude Julien split up Chara and Seidenberg for the third period, and the new pairings of Chara with Johnny Boychuk and Seidenberg with Andrew Ference looked pretty good.
3. Carl Soderberg, who had played just six NHL games before Saturday, made his playoff debut for the Bruins, and he played well. He forced a couple turnovers in the first period and seemed to provide a spark for the fourth line. Soderberg moved into an even more important role after Bergeron left the game, as he moved up to play between Brad Marchand and Jaromir Jagr. If Bergeron is out for Game 6, it will be interesting to see if Julien keeps Soderberg with those two. That’s a line the Bruins need to be a scoring line, even if Bergeron isn’t on it.
4. Both goalies were much better in Game 5 than Game 4. That probably goes without saying considering that we went from 11 goals combined to three (not including the empty-netter), but it’s worth mentioning because both goalies were definitely tested. Corey Crawford made 11 saves in the first to keep the Bruins off the board, including a few from in close or through screens. Late in the third, he made a couple big saves to stave off the Bruins’ comeback, most notably on Jaromir Jagr with 2:20 to go. Tuukka Rask stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced, and really couldn’t have done much on either goal. He was at his best in the third, as he made 12 saves in the period to give his team a chance to complete the comeback.
5. It’s interesting to note that, historically, winning Game 5 in a 2-2 series really hasn’t meant a whole lot. Since 2000, the Stanley Cup Final has been tied 2-2 seven times. The winner of Game 5 has gone on to win the Cup on just two of the previous six occasions. The 2001 Avalanche, 2004 Lightning, 2009 Penguins and 2011 Bruins all fell behind 3-2, but still won the Cup. Now, obviously the Bruins would’ve preferred to have won Game 5 and given themselves a chance to close it out at home in Game 6, but the point here is that this series isn’t over by any means. Bergeron being out would certainly hurt the Bruins’ chances, but even if he is, it would still be foolish to write off the Bruins.