Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall (55) shown here battling the Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw (65) in Game 5 of the NHL Western Conference semifinals says he is fine and ready for Game 6 though one of his hands was wrapped in gauze on Sunday.(Photo Nam Y. Huh AP)
Defenseman Niklas Krowall's hand injury has replaced Jonathan Toews' scoring drought as the hot topic in the Detroit vs. Chicago Western Conference semifinal playoff series.
Kronwall told reporters he was fine Sunday though his hand was wrapped in gauze. Detroit coach Mike Babcock did say there would be no lineup changes for Monday's Game 6 (NBC Sports Network 8 p.m.).
You get bumps and bruises along the way Kronwall said about the injury that occurred when he received a rugged hit by Chicago's Bryan Bickell during Chicago's 4 1 win in Game 5 on Saturday.
Bickell who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer also contributed a big goal in the victory that kept the No. 1 seeded Blackhawks alive in the postseason. They still trail 3 2 in the best of seven series.
With four goals in 10 games Bickell usually viewed as a role player is among the Blackhawks' top playoff goal scorers and is tied for the team lead with 28 hits. The Blackhawks face challenging salary cap decisions this summer and Bickell's desirability in the open marketplace might make it difficult for them to re sign him.
Bickell currently earns less than $600 000 and he should be in position to command a hefty raise. Last season New York Rangers player Brandon Prust was sought after as a free agent role player and he went from earning $800 000 to receiving a four year deal from Montreal paying him an average of $2.5 million.
Right now the Blackhawks' only concern is that Bickell continue to be the same factor he's been because in a series this tight everything matters. Chicago has combined for eight goals in the two games the Blackhawks have won in the series but scored a total of two goals in their three losses.
Now they need a win in Detroit to keep playing.
We've seized the momentum and now we want to try to sustain it Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.
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With Toews scoring his first goal in 10 games he undoubtedly enters Game 6 with less stress in his life although the Blackhawks never seemed all that concerned about the situation.
If you look at his last couple games I thought he played a lot of great shifts and did a lot of good things with nothing to show for it. Quenneville said.
The Blackhawks have lost eight consecutive playoff games in Detroit over the past 20 years.