Dec 12, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Joffrey Lupul (19) handles the puck against the St. Louis Blues during the third period at the Scottrade Center. The Blues defeated the Maple Leafs 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
On Saturday, the Blackhawks take to the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Blackhawks are WHITE hot as of late. They have won three in a row, scoring six goals in two games and seven in the final game. The Blackhawks are a league best 23-6-5 on the season. Meanwhile the Toronto Maple Leafs are STONE COLD. They are entering tonight’s game on a three game losing streak. They have been outscored 14-5 in their last three games.
The Maple Leafs are 16-14-3 on season which is good for 5th in the Atlantic Division. This is the second meeting between the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs. The Blackhawks were victorious in the first game 3-1.
Here are three players to watch in tonight’s game:
1 James van Riemsdyk: Van Riemsdyk is having his best season. Coming into this season, Van Riemsdyk best season points wise was in 2010-11 with the Flyers. He played in 75 games and has 40 points for a +15 rating. This season Van Riemsdyk has 14 goals and 12 assists for 26 points with a +3 rating. According to his scouting report, he boasts a great combination of size and speed. His flaws are his size and his defensive game lacks discipline. He also can be caught out of position sometimes. He needs to score if the Leafs want to win.
2 Nazem Kadri: Kadri is playing well this season. He is on pace to have his best season with the Maple Leafs. He currently has 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points. Last season in 48 games, he had 18 goals and 26 assists for 44 points. The Scouting report on him is that he has great scoring instincts, and soft hands. They will need all his talent tonight.
3 James Reimer/Jonathan Bernier: The goalie duo for the Leafs should be better than they are this season. The duo is ranked 24th in the NHL with 96 goals against. Reimer is 7-4-1 with a 2.81 goals against. While Bernier is 9-10 with a 2.53 goals against. This duo needs to play better for Leafs to have a chance against the Blackhawks.
Obligatory Phil Kessel mention: Phil Kessel is the best player on the Maple Leafs. Everyone knows this fact. He should be a candidate for the Hart Trophy. Kessel has 16 goals and 15 assists on the season. He is a +3 on the season. Kessel is the engine that drives the Leafs train. If the Leafs want to defeat the Blackhawks and make a deep playoff run, they need Kessel to continue to play at a high level.
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