Oct 19, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) makes a save against Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
It’d be ridiculous to expect the Chicago Blackhawks to continue this ridiculous offensive pace. Having scored 19 goals in the last 3 games, the Blackhawks head up North to take on their fellow Original 6 team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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Statistically the Blackhawks have the edge, with an insanely dynamic offense, matched up with the below average Maple Leafs defense.. The Hawks offensive dominance is far and away superior to the Maple Leafs’, however, Toronto has an equally successful Power Play, to the Hawks. Strangely, they both also struggle mightily on the Penalty Kill, so it wouldn’t exactly be going out on a limb to predict multiple Power Play goals, in tonight’s game. The Leafs have had a lot of success with goaltending, however, they don’t control the puck nearly as well as the Hawks and their explosive offense will be a tough task, to say the least, and that very well could be the edge, in tonight’s game.
The Maple Leafs were off to a great start to the season, but are in the midst of a difficult struggle. Currently, the Maple Leafs are ranked 5th in the Atlantic Division, and are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, having lost their last 3, as they are in the midst of a slide down the Atlantic Division standings.
Toronto is lead by Phil Kessel, in points. James Van Riemsdyk is having a fine season, as well as Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul when he’s healthy. The Leafs will be happy to have defenseman Dion Phaneuf returning from suspension, tonight. Cody Franson is also having a fine season, chipping in points from the blueline.
In net, Toronto has deployed a sort of platoon, to much success. Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer have been very successful, in net, even though their team’s defensive play in front of them has left much to be desired.
The Blackhawks have answered their 3 game skid with their most explosive 3 game winning streak, in recent memory. Patrick Kane has made his way to 2nd in the NHL in points, this season. Patrick Sharp is quietly having the best offensive season of his career, so far. Duncan Keith has chipped in enough points from the blueline, to be confused with a solid top-6 forward, this season, and you can never count out the Captain, Jonathan Toews, as he continues he’s all-world, all-around game of hockey.
In net, the Hawks are likely going with rookie Antti Raanta, who has played very well, in Corey Crawford’s absence. The Hawks just acquired Jason Labarbera, from Edmonton, to serve as a backup goaltender.
Two original 6 teams, trending in two completely different directions. The Blackhawks are leading the way, in the NHL, and the Maple Leafs are slipping out of the playoff contention. A win tonight, for the Leafs could completely reverse their current struggles, and a win for the Hawks will be more much needed space between them and the rest of the highly competitive Central Division. It should be a good game.