One of the core pieces of the two previous Stanley Cup Championships, and the man who scored the game winning goal, for the Chicago Blackhawks to win the 2013 Stanley Cup, Dave Bolland, will make his return to the United Center, tonight, as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs haven’t beaten the Blackhawks since 2003, so perhaps they are hoping Bolland knows how to change that. Bolland has helped propel the Leafs to a fast 6-2-0 start(12 points) with his 6 points, in 8 games played. The Leafs are looking to find themselves in comfortable contention for the first time in quite some time. Other than Bolland, Toronto is led offensively by Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. Opponents have struggled to score against the Leafs too, and that’s thanks to the excellent start to the season, by net-minder, Jonathan Berneier. Like every other team in the NHL, beating the Blackhawks is a great test for a team, and could go a long ways in being truly competitive, in the season.
The Blackhawks, who after a disappointing loss to their rival St. Louis Blues, reeled off consecutive victories, and looked to be on track until they played their worst game of the season, against the very same Blues team, in a disappointing loss at home. Now, the Hawks are looking to get back on track at home, in what will be an emotional game, with the return of Bolland. The Hawks have mightily struggled on the Penalty Kill, and now it is seemingly starting to spread to the Power Play, that has converted only 1 of it’s last 16 opportunities. Marian Hossa seems to slowly but surely starting to find his scoring touch, this season, and the Hawks are still waiting for notoriously slow-starter, Jonathan Toews to start lighting the lamp. Toews and Hossa will surely find their way, but while we wait, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad have respectively done fine jobs putting up points. Corey Crawford has more than held his own, this season, as the Hawks wait to finally start firing on all cylinders.
In what is going to be a great team-testing contest for the Maple Leafs, is also an opportunity to move passed the disappointing loss, to the Blues. It should be a fun, emotional game tonight, for the Hawks, but without 2 points, it will be ugly.