Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks-Toronto Maple Leafs Preview With Steve Dangle

By Mario Tirabassi
Jan 15, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) gets rid of the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) gets rid of the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 20, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock looks on during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

The Matchup

MT: So, moving into Saturday night’s match-up, obviously the Leafs get their rest-day on Friday after games in Winnipeg and Minnesota. Chicago will be playing the second of back-to-back games after losing to Columbus. What are you looking for for the Leafs as they come into Chicago?

SD: I’m looking for their ability hold a darn lead. They’ve only done it once so far this season against the Boston Bruins. Offensively, they’re looking fine. I mean, against Minnesota they only had two goals, but before that they scored four goals in three straight games. Which, I know, is old-hat for any Blackhawks fans. But for Leafs fans, that’s exciting. So, I’m looking to see how they do against Chicago’s defense.

More from Analysis

What will also be interesting is, the Leafs forward group has been relying on their speed and know they’re going up against the Blackhawks who definitely have their own guys who can match that. Toews, Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin, and of course I would watch for the inevitable Richard Panik hat-trick, because we know it’s coming.

MT: Well, that wouldn’t be bad for us.

SD: I also, wouldn’t mind a solid performance out of Frederik Andersen. The Leafs went out and spent all this money on new goaltending this year and obviously, on paper it has improved but the problem is Andersen was playing on the Bruce Boudreau Anaheim Ducks, playing behind a very good defense group and the Leafs just don’t have that. I mean, I expected him to start slow. I think anytime a starting goaltender goes to a different team, there going to be a little shaky. So the Blackhawks might be able to take advantage of that.

MT: You know, looking at Andersen’s season so far, he hasn’t been statistically all that impressive for what he was brought in for. Is it troubling for you as a Leafs fan, to have a starting goalie begin the year like Jonathan Bernier did last season?

SD: No, I’m not too concerned. The stats are terrible of course, but watching the games and watching the help he was given against the Jets and I have a hard time faulting him for any of those goals. Two of the goals he has allowed this season have been overtime goals with Kyle Turris, who is an assassin, left wide open and then Patrick Laine, who we now know is an assassin, again left wide open with all that open-ice.

I mean, at the very least you have to throw some people in front of Carey Price, Cory Schneider, you have to give your goalie some help. You’re facing the best players in the world and if you’re going to face 30-40 shots a game, you got to give him some help and they haven’t really done that yet. so yeah his numbers suck, but so do the Leafs defensively. Offensively I’m not worried and that’s been the story through four games so I hope it gets better.

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