Game Six tonight with the Cup on the line in Boston. Though the Bruins began this series with a ton of momentum, their last two outings in Games 4 and 5 certainly haven’t inspired any confidence. They have looked unlike themselves recently, and with some key injuries heading into tonight’s elimination game, Boston will need a premium effort to prolong their season. We’ve been on Boston the entire series, and though we took a night off in backing them in what we viewed as an unpredictable Game 5, tonight is as good a time as ever for our faith in Boston to be restored. We enter our potentially (but hopefully not) last write-up of the season with a 51-38 record overall on the featured picks, and look to end on a high note. Read on for tonight’s game details and official pick below.
Chicago Blackhawks (+105) @ Boston Bruins (-125)
The Blackhawks enter tonight’s game shorter underdogs than usual, and much of that likely has to do with the status of key Boston forward, Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron is simply an irreplaceable player for the Bruins. The Canadian centre can do it all, and after Zdeno Chara, is likely Boston’s most valuable player. He left Game 5 early in the second period, and failed to return. He’s injured, but I won’t bother trying to guess what it could be. So little information has emerged regarding his status, though head coach Claude Julien did say yesterday he was “encouraged” by Bergeron’s progress. It’s the Cup Finals, and even though I have no clue what’s ailing Bergeron, I’d say he suits up for Game 6. It’s just too important a contest to miss. If, for whatever reason Bergeron does not play in tonight’s game, it’d be very tough to back the Bruins, but hopefully we don’t cross that bridge.
On Chicago’s side, their team captain Jonathan Toews is also battling an injury. Toews missed the entire third period Saturday night after a hit from Johnny Boychuk. Head Coach Joel Quennville did say Toews was feeling much better and is optimistic he’ll suit up tonight. Like Bergeron, Toews too is such an integral player. I’d bet on both stars toughing it out and taking to the ice tonight. Though I don’t want to speculate on the nature or severity of these injuries, with this being a potential elimination game with the Cup on the line, it’s going to take an awful lot to not be in the line-up for tonight.
With both Bergeron and Toews doing better and appearing as if they will play, I’d look for Boston to re-gain their mojo and even up this series. Their dominance early in the series cannot be forgotten, and though they were lackluster in Game 5, keep in mind they were a shot away in Game 4 overtime from making this a 3-1 series. I firmly believe that the Bruins remain the better team, and it’s time they show it over the course of a full sixty minutes. One thing Chicago has done well of late has been getting their speed game going. Like the Leafs in Round 1, Boston proved when they allow the opposition to skate and move their feet, they could have trouble keeping up. Chicago has dictated the pace far too much recently, and look for Boston to change that. The Bruins will come out flying in front of their raucous home crowd, and be anxious to take the body early, finishing their checks on the Blackhawks’ star players.
In net, Tuukka Rask has been steady, but hardly spectacular of late for the Bruins. It’s about time the Finn steps up and steals a game for the Bruins. If Bergeron does in fact not suit up, it won’t be easy to extend this to seven games. He brings so much to that Boston line-up, and his loss would result in Boston being on their heels throughout. Rask simply has to step up, and bank on him doing so. The young netminder is a budding superstar between the pipes, and he knows this is a great opportunity to prove that he has arrived on the big stage. Boston remains 8-3 when there’s a chance they could be eliminated over the past five years, and I’d look to them to increase that number tonight. This is a gritty group, loaded with pride, and in front of a rowdy home crowd, Boston should do just enough to extend this to a Game 7.
PICK = Boston (-125)