The Chicago Blackhawks head into Toronto riding a nine-game winning streak. It is the currently the longest winning streak in the NHL. In the Blackhawks’ last victory, yesterday against Montreal, they got a herculean effort from netminder Corey Crawford. Crawford allowed one goal on 40 shots, and he is adding to the best season of his career. He has a save percentage of .929 for the season. In his last 17 games, Crawford is 14-0-3 with a .947 save percentage and 1.47 goals-against average. He has allowed 29 goals in that span. He is 7-0-0 in his last seven starts.
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The Blackhawks are getting offense from more than the Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. The captain has finally started scoring. Jonathan Toews had a goal in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 victory over Montreal and now is scoring a regular basis. Since December 17, Toews has scored 8 goals and added 8 assists. Toews also passed former Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the franchise goals-scored list.
Tonight’s matchup will also feature two of the best coaches in the NHL. Joel Quenneville’s Blackhawks will take on the “great” Mike Babcock’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Coach Quenneville passed Al Arbour for second in all-time coaching wins with Thursday’s triumph against the Canadiens. Babcock has won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008, the IIHF World Championships in 2004 with Team Canada and two gold medals with Team Canada with 2010 and 2014. Babcock has now undertaken the job of helping rebuild the Toronto Maple Leafs, and that is a huge mission. The Leafs got off to horrible start under Babcock, going 1-7-2. After the horrible start, they played a respectable 15-11-5 despite losing both James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier for periods during the season. The Leafs, however, come into tonight’s game on three-game losing streak.
The biggest surprises on the Maple Leafs this season are Brad Boyes and Leo Komarov. Boyes leads Toronto with 55.9 Corsi-for percentage, while Komarov has already surpassed his 26 points from last season with 29 so far this season.
Despite the Leafs’ poor play as of late, fans should expect a tight contest.
Game Time – 6 p.m.
TV Listings – CSN/NHL Network
Radio Listings – WGN Radio
Radio Live Streaming – WGN Radio App
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On to the predictions. I was nearly perfect in my last prediction, which involved the Blackhawks and Buffalo Sabres. I predicted 3-2, and the final was 3-1. I said someone from the third line would score, and Phillip Danault scored his first NHL goal. I called Corey Crawford would be the second star, and he was.
Final Score Prediction: Scott Darling gets the start in net and gives up a few goals, but the Blackhawks keep on winning and defeat the Maple Leafs 4-3 in OT. The Blackhawks’ goals will come from Andrew Shaw, Richard Panik, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, with the captain getting the game winner.
This being a road game, there will be no three stars for the Blackhawks.