Depending on whom you ask, Johnny Boychuk’s hit on Jonathan Toews in front of the Boston net Saturday night — a check that kept the Blackhawks captain off the ice for the entire third period — was either a clean hit, a borderline hit, or a no-comment hit.
But the good news for the Blackhawks is that regardless of which classification the hit falls under — and the league has already determined there will be no disciplinary action taken — Toews appears to be progressing well and may be in the lineup for tonight’s possible series clincher in Boston.
“Johnny is doing much better today,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday. “He’s progressed. We’re optimistic that he might be playing tomorrow night.”
Now back to the hit that relegated Toews to the role of spectator for the final 20 minutes Saturday.
Here’s how Boychuk explained it after the game: “I came across and read it and hit him. I tried to hit him clean and I thought it was. I don’t know how he fell, awkwardly or what. I’m going to try and play physical. He’s going to drive the net like he’s supposed to and I’m going to hit.”
Boston coach Claude Julien concurred with his player ... and the league.
“I think they said it was clean, wasn’t it? Then I agree with them,” Julien said. “I’m not going to hide from that. If it wasn’t a clean hit, I’d have been a guy that supported those kind of things that we need to get out of the game. But it was a clean hit.”
Quenneville opted to play things diplomatically.
“There wasn’t a penalty on the play, and it was one of those hits in a tight area in front of the net,” he said. “You can be vulnerable in that area — a big hit.
“The first part of contact you could talk about ... but I’m not going to go there.”
That it was Boychuk on the giving end of a big hit came as absolutely no surprise to the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp, who has had numerous run-ins with the big defenseman all series.
“He’s taken some runs at me but I can’t really complain how he’s hit me,” Sharp said. “He plays the game hard, he’s pretty honest.
“As far as the hit on Johnny, there’s on-ice officials, there are people watching in the stands and the NHL is reviewing all those hits, so I’ll let them make their decision.”
Since the league has opted not to punish Boychuk, is the case now considered closed?
“Yeah, I guess it is,” Sharp said. “If they said it was done, then it’s over with.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.