The great mystery heading into tonight's Game 6 and perhaps a deciding factor in this Stanley Cup Final is the condition of Boston's Patrice Bergeron and whether or not he'll be in the lineup when the Blackhawks go for the clincher at TD Garden.
The veteran center, who's the heart and soul of the Bruins, was taken to the hospital for observation early in the second period of the Hawks' 3-1 victory Saturday at the United Center after suffering an undisclosed injury. He was released later that night and flew home with the team Sunday morning.
Contact information ( * required )
Boston coach Claude Julien on Sunday afternoon labeled Bergeron as "day to day" with a "body" injury, the exact extent of which has been widely speculated about -- including rumors that it was an injured spleen.
"He's a guy that's day to day, and day to day is really good news to me anyways," was as much as Julien was willing to elaborate.
What's clear, though, is that what Bergeron means to this Bruins team goes way beyond just his team-leading 4 goals in this series, his 15 playoff points overall or the Selke Trophy finalist's uncanny ability to win faceoffs.
"He's a big part of our team, everyone knows that," Bruins winger Nathan Horton said. "I don't know what's going on, but he's a great player and we obviously need him out there."
Few players have been on the receiving end of the kind of a glowing review like Bergeron got from teammate Brad Marchand earlier in the series.
"He does everything right," Marchand said. "He's always there to support you. He's frustrating for opponents to play against because he's always taking away the passing lane and is in your face. We're very lucky to have him."
Marchand wasn't finished.
"He's the nicest guy in the world," he said. "He's the perfect guy. If you have a daughter, he's the type of guy you want dating your daughter."
Game 5 had an unusual ending in that neither Bergeron nor the Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews saw any ice time in the third period. And the status of each figures to be a game-time call.
"Both great players. I think any coach in the league, any player in the league, would like to have those guys on their team," Patrick Sharp said Sunday. "They take pride in taking face-offs, playing well away from the puck, making their linemates better ... and both are big parts of the locker room."