The Chicago Blackhawks are one win away from their second Stanley Cup in four years, but the Boston Bruins don't intend to let the Hawks lift hockey's holy grail on their home ice. Back in Boston for Game 6, the Bruins are hoping to hold off the Blackhawks and send the series back to Chicago for a deciding Game 7.
But the talk heading into Game 6 isn't about the potential of the Blackhawks being crowned champions. The focus is on who is healthy because both the Bruins and Blackhawks are dealing with injuries to stars.
Patrice Bergeron was injured in the second period of Game 5 and later ended up in the hospital, while Jonathan Toews missed the third period after being hit by Johnny Boychuk, but both look set to play tonight. Claude Julien said he is "confident" that Bergeron will play and Toews said that he will be on the ice for Chicago, confirming that both teams will have their stars available for the potentially deciding game, although there are still questions about how healthy they really are.
Chicago enters Game 6 with plenty of momentum after winning the last two games. They are just 4-5 on the road in the playoffs, but did win Game 4 in Boston and when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010, they clinched it in Game 6 on the road so they are no stranger to road Cup winners.
But recent history also favors the Bruins. In 2011, they lost Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver to fall behind 3-2 in the series before winning the next game at home then winning the Cup on the road in Game 7. Boston has also been excellent at home this postseason, going 8-3 even after their Game 4 loss.
The Stanley Cup may be decided tonight and if it is, it will come with both teams having their full complement of players. Bergeron and Toews are set to play, but that doesn't mean they are at full strength, not that the Blackhawks will care. If it is a deciding game, and if they claim the Cup, they won't care who was healthy or not.
Can the Blackhawks win without overtime?
This series has been full of overtime contests, with the Blackhawks winning two after regular and the Bruins claiming one. One of those Chicago overtime wins came in Game 4, when they finally got over the hump and won in Boston. The Blackhawks also needed overtime to win the Stanley Cup in Game 6 on the road so they aren't new to extra period hockey in the Stanley Cup Final. But while a win is a win, and they won't apologize for how they won a Stanley Cup, they would sure like to capture the crown in regular if possible.
Will the Bruins ride the home crowd?
When the Bruins hosted Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, they were trailing 3-2 and were welcomed to the TD Garden by one of the loudest crowds in recent memory. The building was electric and Boston rode that crowd to a win that sent them to Game 7 in Vancouver where they won the Cup. Now they are back in the same spot, trailing 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Final and in need of a great crowd to boost them.
Can Frolik and Kruger keep it up?
The Blackhawks' fourth line has been phenomenal in the playoffs and especially in the Stanley Cup Final. They haven't contributed a ton offensively, but they have been solid as a shutdown line and that is largely due to the great play of Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger. The pair have also been Chicago's penalty kill workhorses. The Blackhawks' depth has gotten them to this point and if they are going to lift the Cup in Boston, the depth, namelty Frolik and Kruger, will have to do it one more time.