Can Bruins, Zdeno Chara stop Blackhawks' Patrick Kane?

Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane (C) celebrates his goal on the Boston Bruins with teammates Duncan...

Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane (C) celebrates his goal on the Boston Bruins with teammates Duncan Keith (L) and Jonathan Toews (R) during the second period in Game 5 of their NHL Stanley Cup Finals hockey series in Chicago, Illinois, June 22, 2013. (REUTERS/Jim Young)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:11 AM ET

CHICAGO - The Boston Bruins are up against it now and if they are going to force a Game 7 in this cameleon of a Stanley Cup final they are going to have to do something about Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and his linemates.

The fate of the Hawks’ first line rests on the health of centre Jonathan Toews, who looked wobbly after a crushing hit from Boston defenceman Johnny Boychuk in the second period. There is no question that line and the way it has taken away the lunch money from bully Zdeno Chara is the reason the Hawks are now one win away from their second Stanley Cup championship in four years.

Kane darted, disappeared and reappeared to score the first two goals of Saturday’s 3-1 win.

Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg had an unlucky start when a shot by Chicago defenceman Johnny Oduya shattered his stick and bounced to Kane at the goal line. Kane tucked it into the open net behind Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.

Five minutes into the second period, Seidenberg got beaten wide by big winger Bryan Bickell, who circled the net and found Kane sneaking in behind Chara for goal No. 2.

That left Chara on the ice for eight of the Hawks’ last nine goals, a stat that will no doubt be frequently quoted but is unfair to him.

By the end of the night, Bruins coach Claude Julien had Chara paired up with Boychuk and Seidenberg was playing with Andrew Ference.

The Chara-Boychuk pairing might be the one we see in Game 6 Monday night, or maybe not depending on the status of Toews.

The Hawks have been talking about having exposed Chara by going after him physically.

“There’s certainly respect there, no question we respect Chara and the way that he plays the game and the quality of player that he is. But we’ve got some good players on our team, too,” said Chicago forward Patrick Sharp after the game.

“At the end of the day, that’s how things are going to be settled. There’s no disrespect from (Seabrook) or Jonny in what they said, they were more concerned with themselves and how they can play and obviously that line did a great job tonight.’’

Chara helped the Bruins close the gap Saturday when he wired a shot over the glove of Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford (never mind an comments about another goal over his glove, nobody could have stopped that one).

The Hawks weren’t shy talking about how they had figured out a plan for Chara.

“I mean, they’re allowed their comments. If that’s what they think, then they should try it again,” said Julien before Game 5. “A lot of people have tried to figure out Zdeno. People talk about five goals against (in Game 4), but were they all his fault? None of them were his fault, actually. Just one of those situations where we feel he’s one of our best players on our team. He’s one of the best defencemen in the league, so I don’t think there’s too many flaws in his game.”

Maybe not, but it was interesting to see Chara picking himself up off the ice in the first period Saturday after a big hit by Bickell.

The 6-foot-3, 233-pound winger is one of the few guys who can take Chara on and he has.

The question now is what will they do about Kane?

“Well, they have had two good games in a row and the way the goals were scored, they were scored close around the net,” said Julien. “Kane scored three goals in the last two games and he’s very good at kind of finding those quiet areas and sliding into the right spot. That’s why he’s a good player and scores a lot of goals. We just maybe have to have a little bit more awareness around our net because both goals were scored the same way.”

There’s the question.

Can the Bruins find an answer?

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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