With a 3-1 loss in Game 5 on Saturday night, the Bruins fell behind 3-2 in the Stanley Cup finals and now will have to stave off elimination in Game 6 on Monday at TD Garden. Here are five takeaways from Game 5:
Can the Bruins win the Stanley Cup without Patrice Bergeron? Give the Bruins plenty of credit; they did not fold after falling behind 2-0 and losing arguably their MVP as well as a leader in Bergeron. Bergeron suffered an undisclosed injury prior to Patrick Kane's scoring his second goal to make it 2-0 5:13 into the second period. The Bruins regrouped and held the fort strong for the remainder of the middle frame, and then cut the lead to 2-1 on captain Zdeno Chara's third goal of the playoffs 3:40 into the third. But that lead, and the absence of the player who is arguably a co-captain (not just alternate) with Chara and their best all-around player, plus a revitalized Blackhawks team seemed to be just too much for the resilient Bruins. With the news that Bergeron was taken to a local hospital for observation, I tweeted during the third period, "No Bergeron = No Cup" for the Bruins, and I believe that to be the case. Yes, the Blackhawks lost Jonathan Toews in the third period, but he remained on the bench and wasn't taken by ambulance to a hospital. And yes, Bruins coach Claude Julien said there was no update on Bergeron and he might play in Game 6, but if that's not the case and even if Toews doesn't play, this scribe believes the Bruins cannot win two straight elimination games without Bergeron. If not for Tuukka Rask, Bergeron very well could be the Conn Smythe winner if the Bruins were to win the Cup. He is the heartbeat of the Bruins and the player who can provide anything in any situation in which Julien needs him. The Bruins might force a Game 7 because they're that resilient, but without Bergeron, they will not win the 2013 Stanley Cup.
CLICK HERE to read colleague Joe McDonald's column on Bergeron.
Just a reminder that Chara is still Chara: Heading into Game 5, the Blackhawks openly bragged that they were not intimidated by Chara and knew how to beat him. After showing that in Game 4, with Chara finishing at minus-3, they did so to an extent in Game 5, as the captain was minus-2 and struggled for much of the first two periods. But Chara wasn't about to roll over, and in the third period, he came out flying, hitting anything in sight and scoring the Bruins' lone goal. While his defensive game might not have been up to his usual standards in the past two games, he still has a goal and two assists in those two games. Let's be realists here: Chara is human, and like anyone else, he can wear down when playing the minutes he has been playing. But he is still one of the hardest workers in the NHL, and he showed that again in Game 5.
Rask and Crawford bounce back: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford were the subject of scrutiny by media and fans alike heading into Game 5 after questionable performances in the Blackhawks' 6-5 Game 4 win. But as they have on so many occasions during the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, the two netminders and Conn Smythe candidates bounced back in Game 5. Rask finished with 29 saves and really couldn't be blamed for either of the two goals he allowed to Kane. As Rask did in Game 4 -- even when allowing six goals -- he kept his team in the game and gave it a chance to win Game 5. He stopped all 12 shots he faced in the third period as the Bruins tried to come back and potentially tie the game. Rask was the least of the Bruins' problems, and the Bruins had some costly defensive lapses in front in Game 5. Meanwhile, Crawford once again silenced the doubters, with a 24-save performance and the win. He was especially big in the opening period as the Bruins outshot the Blackhawks 11-8 but still trailed 1-0 after the first. He is now 15-7 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .932 save percentage as well as being one win from the Stanley Cup.
Faceoffs a difference again: As they have been throughout this series, faceoffs were a crucial factor in Game 5. Even though the Blackhawks were beat on the faceoff dot 39-38 in Game 4, they were a much different team after being dominated in faceoffs in the previous two games. In Game 5, the Hawks actually won the faceoff battle 33-24, and it helped them take a 3-2 series lead. When their skilled players have the puck more, chances are they will score or at least create scoring opportunities more often, and that was the case in Game 5. The Bruins clearly missed their faceoff master after Bergeron left the game injured. They will need to step up as a team at the dot to prevent the Blackhawks from utilizing their offensive skill.
Soderberg not a bad choice: Julien did some line shuffling for Game 5, replacing Kaspars Daugavins with Carl Soderberg on the fourth line with Shawn Thornton and Rich Peverley. The Swedish forward made his coach look pretty smart. Soderberg had some solid chances early on thanks to some strong skating and forechecking. And thanks to his efforts, he found himself taking Bergeron's spot between Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand on the second line. Soderberg couldn't seize a regular spot in his six regular-season games, but after a solid 14:16 of ice time in Game 5, he definitely will have Julien thinking about playing him again in Game 6, especially if Bergeron doesn't play.