“Expected” was the keyword as far as Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa’s status hours before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
“He’s expected to play tonight,” Blackhawks coach Joe Quenneville told reporters after a pregame skate at TD Garden on Wednesday.
Added Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: “I think it’s expected right now, but it might be like last game. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Hossa was a late scratch for Game 3 on Monday, a game the Boston Bruins won, 2-0, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Hossa, unlike Game 3, wasn’t on the ice for the pregame skate Wednesday morning, although Quenneville declined to address Hossa’s absence.
“He’s fine,” Quenneville said.
Quenneville previously said that Hossa is suffering an upper-body injury. Chicago Tribune reporter Chris Kuc reported via Twitter Tuesday night that Hossa possibly could be dealing with a neck injury.
Ben Smith saw his first action of this postseason in place of Hossa in Game 3.
‘Hawks stand up for Hossa
Hossa’s teammates stood up for Hossa, a day after former Blackhawks forward Tony Amonte questioned his toughness.
Amonte, an analyst for CSN New England, said Hossa is “not the guy with the highest pain threshold in the NHL.”
“What’s shocking is how he did it,” Amonte continued. “From what I hear, he walked into the coaches’ room before the game and said, ‘I can’t go.’ I don’t think the coaches had any clue. I don’t think the trainers had talked about it with the coaches, like it was just a surprise for everybody."
Toews, who hadn’t heard about the comments before he was asked by reporters on Wednesday, said he, for one, doesn’t second-guess Hossa.
“If a guy is too hurt or too injured to play, there’s no question in our locker room,” Toews said. “Guys are laying it on the line for each other throughout the entire season and the playoffs, especially. Guys are playing through a ton of stuff. There is no question that if Hossa could go and be effective for us, he would have. If people want to criticize from the outside, that’s up to them.”
Kane said anybody outside the ‘Hawks locker room “doesn’t know what’s going on.”
Seguin seeks assistance
Bruins forward Tyler Seguin had scored one goal all playoffs (Game 4 of the second-round series against the New York Rangers) and when he sought out coach Claude Julien for advice.
“I just wanted to take my game to the next level,” Seguin said. “This is the Stanley Cup Final. It wasn’t easy (to seek out Julien). I thought about it a couple days.”
The meeting occurred before the start of the Stanley Cup Final. Seguin still only has that one goal, but he does have an assist in each of the first three games of the series and is part of the Bruins’ best line at the moment.
Julien put Seguin with Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille during Game 2. Paille scored the game-winning goal in each of the last two games as the reshuffled third line has set the pace for the rest of the Bruins’ offense.
“He’s played well,” Julien said. “Maybe he hasn’t got that goal or those goals, but he’s got some assists, made some great plays on other ones that they haven’t scored. He’s forechecked (and) done well in the battles as far as trying to come up with the puck.”
Illegal use of the feet?
The Bruins won 71 percent of the faceoffs in Game 3 and Toews had a theory why he and the other Blackhawks centers were dominated.
“For the most part I think they’re using their feet quite a bit,” Toews said. “We have to be a little more vigilant so that the linesman is aware of that. But we can do our part, too, to get the edge here and there. It comes down to being more aggressive and more competitive on the faceoff dot.”
Earlier in the playoffs, it was the ‘Hawks who were accused of cheating in draws. Whatever advantage they had has disappeared, however, as the Bruins have had the edge in each game and have won 23.3 percent more draws in this series entering Game 4.
NHL rules prevent contact with an opponent and centers can’t cross over the middle of the faceoff dot before the puck is dropped. It was made illegal this season for players to use their gloves to win faceoffs.