BOSTON — Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't want to talk about the injury that forced him to scratch forward Marian Hossa from the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins.
And why not?
"I think that's self-explanatory," Quenneville said, once again declining to explain the secrecy that is as much a part of the NHL culture as playoff beards and Zambonis.
Hossa's surprise scratch from Game 3 and the one-word explanation — "upper" — for the part of his body that was injured is part of a long-running cat-and-mouse game NHL teams play. The theory goes that any revealing information about injuries could become a competitive disadvantage.
Hossa is expected to play in Game 4, Quenneville said Tuesday, but only after making it clear that "I'm not going to get (into) exactly what the injury is or where it occurred."
"It's sort of a secret society in the hockey world and in the injury world," Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland said. "You don't want other teams having any injury information at all."
Asked if he had seen Hossa or had a chance to talk to him, Bolland said, "I don't know."
You don't know if you've seen him or talked to him?
"I don't know if I've seen him," Bolland repeated with a sly smile.
Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots from the depleted Blackhawks to help the Bruins win 2-0 on Monday night and move two wins from their second Stanley Cup title in three seasons.
Game 4 is Wednesday night in Boston before the series returns to Chicago for a fifth game.
Hossa's mysterious injury may have been a turning point in Game 3, but it's hardly unusual in the secretive world of hockey injuries. Players and coaches say they just don't talk about what's hurting, partly because they don't want to seem weak in a sport where they hit each other for a living.
But mostly they don't want let the other team know where to aim.
"If I'm going out to battle and I have an injury to any part of my body, I don't want the other side to know what it is," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said.
Injury information can also help the opponent strategize. Quenneville was so concerned about giving the Bruins advance notice of even a few minutes that he didn't let substitute Ben Smith skate in the warmup even though there was a chance he would need to play.
"I just didn't want to tip our hand that there's something going on," the coach said.
"Ben was ready. I knew he was doing everything," Quenneville said. "We were hopeful that Hoss was playing, and Ben was doing everything to get ready. He was ready."
No hard feelings, Bruins coach Claude Julien said. After all, he would do — and has done — the same thing.