After earning two points in a shootout win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night, the Chicago Blackhawks continue their road trip through Canada Saturday night, heading to the Air Canada Centre for an Original Six matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 'Hawks come in having won two of their last three games, both against Ottawa; the Leafs have won two straight in dominating fashion, beating Buffalo 4-0 on Tuesday and Columbus 4-1 last night.
The 'Hawks finally got their offense going a bit more on Thursday against Ottawa, scoring four goals in regulation in their 5-4 shootout win. With Toronto having given up just one goal in their last two games, this will be a good test to see if the Blackhawks can continue that trend. It'd be especially nice to see Patrick Kane get a goal in 5v5 play.
The Blackhawks get starting goalie Corey Crawford back after a five-game absence due to an upper-body injury. Crow's return could be something to keep an eye on in terms of how comfortable he looks back in net, but Coach Q probably wouldn't play him if he wasn't ready, so there's no reason to be too concerned.
One of the narratives you will likely hear about before, throughout, and after the game is that of the brothers van Riemsdyk playing against one another for the first time in their lives. The Leafs' James van Riemsdyk, 25, has blossomed into one of the NHL's best young goal scorers since being traded to Toronto by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 offseason. The 'Hawks Trevor, 23, is a rookie who was signed out of the University of New Hampshire last spring, and has been quite impressive in the early going this season. To read more on this, check out ESPN's Pierre LeBrun's column here.
Opponent Breakdown: Toronto Maple Leafs
This is the second game of a back-to-back for the Leafs, who took down the Columbus Blue Jackets last night as mentioned before. They've had just 2 other back-to-backs this season, both on the road, and are 1-0-1 in the second games of those series. Coming off of two dominating victories in their last two games, they are sure to come in with confidence.
Phil Kessel has been scoring at an elite level so far this season, with 13 points (6G, 7A) in the Leafs' 10 games thus far. Tyler Bozak has also been great, with 10 points (4G, 6A). The Leafs recently split these two up, having Nazem Kadri center Kessel and van Riemsdyk on the top line, so the 'Hawks blue line could have their work cut out for them a bit more with these two being on the ice at different times.
Goalie Jonathan Bernier started in net last night against Columbus, so it's fair to assume that James Reimer could get the start tonight against the 'Hawks.
Daniel Carcillo remains out of the lineup for the Blackhawks with a lower-body injury.
Toronto will be without goal scorer Joffrey Lupul, who is out indefinitely after breaking his hand in practice this week. Brandon Kozun is also out, with a lower-body injury.
|Blackhawks vs. Leafs LINEUPS
|Corey Crawford||G||James Reimer
|ALSO SEE: PENSION PLAN PUPPETS, SBN'S LEAFs BLOG|
When: 6:00 p.m. CT
Where: Air Canada Centre
TV: CSN, NHL Network
(Statistics via NHL.com)