BOSTON - The Stanley Cup will be in the building tonight and perhaps even on the TD Garden ice.
And so, it appears, will Boston Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
Decisions could change prior to puck drop, but early indications are that both star players will be in the lineup for tonight's Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final, a game in which the Blackhawks could clinch the title.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said this morning that Bergeron will take the pre-game skate and "I'm feeling confident he will play."
Meanwhile, Toews took part in the Hawks morning skate, which would also suggest he is in the lineup.
"I feel great," Toews said after getting off the ice. "No questions about where I am physically."
Bergeron was rushed to the hospital during Game 5 Saturday after suffering an undisclosed injury while Toews sat on the Chicago bench for the entire third period with what was suspected to be a head injury.
While both coaches are capable of gamesmanship, the prospect of both players returning to the lineup is surprising given the grim prospects 48 hours earlier.
Julien said that Jordan Caron and Jay Pandolfo will also take the pregame skate.
"If Bergeron, can't go, then I've got some decisions to make," the Bruins coach said.
Boston winger Tyler Seguin said his team has come to expect that type of leadership from Bergeron, one of the Bruins’ alternate captains.
"If he's in it, just shows the warrior that he is," Seguin said. "It wouldn't surprise me."
Despite the fact that his team is facing elimination, Julien seemed loose at his morning press conference, suggesting his team feels the same.
"I like the excitement in our team right now," Julien said. "They're not afraid of it. They are excited about the challenge.
"Just when everyone thinks you're down, they enjoy the challenge of proving everybody wrong."
The Bruins, of course, have come back from being down before – just ask the Toronto Maple Leafs. But two years ago, they also trailed the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in the Cup final and came back to win the series.
"These are the games that you want to be a part of and be a big part of," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "And you've got to look forward to the challenge and embrace it."
Some numbers to digest: Teams leading 3-2 in the final have won 28 of 36 series since the best-of-seven format was introduced in 1939 with 20 of those winning in six games.
Eight teams have come back from a 3-2 deficit to win the final with the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins (against the Detroit Red Wings) and the 2011 Bruins the most recent.
TOEWS SAYS HE's NOT CONCUSSED
If Jonathan Toews had his way, he would have played in the third period of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final Saturday night, shots to the head or not.
So the Chicago Blackhawks and their captain brushed aside any notion that he is concussed and gave nothing but a green light for tonight's potential Cup clincher at TD Garden.
"I think that was just the coaches being cautious, not letting me get back on the ice in the third period the other night," Toews said following a brief Hawks morning skate here. "We got to the point where I was ready to go again. I’ll be ready to go tonight."
Toews was hit hard at least three times in Game 5, most notably receiving a blow to the head from Boston Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk. But with the Hawks leading 2-0 entering the third period, coach Joel Quenneville opted for preserving his star centre for Game 6.
"It was a couple hits that I took that I guess the coaches thought I wasn’t ready to play in the third period," said Toews, who was seen lobbying on the bench to get back in the game. "Obviously you always want to bounce back. It is a physical game. There are no worries there."
Toews recognizes the opportunity that awaits tonight and is anxious to avoid having to return to Chicago for Game 7
I think like the rest of the team I feel good, we feel confident," Toews said. "We worked very hard in the last couple months to get here. We’ve worked hard to create these opportunities and tonight.
"We want to go play like it is another game but we need to make sure we bring that emotion and that physicality. At the same time we want to have confidence with the puck and just go play."