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Happiness by the Kilowatt: Blackhawks vs. Maple Leafs Preview

Oh, it’s these guys again.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For the second time in five days, it’s an Original Six matchup awaiting on Sunday evening between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Toronto Maple Leafs — this time at the United Center.

On Wednesday, a game between a team that remains up near the top of the league standings and a team toiling at the bottom went exactly as expected, with Toronto scoring three goals in the first period — including one just nine seconds into the game — en route to a 5-2 victory.

Toronto will look a little different in this game, though, after a massive trade completed late Friday night with the St. Louis Blues. The Maple Leafs picked up two-way center Ryan O’Reilly along with forwards Noel Acciari and Josh Pillar from St. Louis in exchange for forward Mikhail Ambramov, old friend Adam Gaudette (RIP to the #GaudetteGang) and a trio of draft picks: a 2023 first, a 2024 second and a 2023 third. The Minnesota Wild also jumped in, grabbing a fourth-round pick while retaining some of O’Reilly’s salary to make the deal work. The deal loads up Toronto’s forward depth even more, with O’Reilly sure to help shore up some of the Leafs’ defensive deficiencies. Still seems like Toronto might be lacking a bit on the blue line and its goaltending situation will remain a question mark until it is answered with strong postseason play, but it’s hard to deny the very real power the Maple Leafs have assembled up front.

Here’s what it looked like on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens:

Toronto steamrolled Montreal 5-1 in that game and, though its players will likely have some tired legs when it takes the ice in Chicago on Sunday evening, they should have more than enough firepower to make relatively quick work of the Blackhawks — if they wish to do so.

From a Blackhawks perspective, that trade takes away another possible destination for Patrick Kane. With no practice on Saturday, Kane hasn’t had to answer any questions related to it, so we’ll see if Kane is as miffed at this deal as he was at the Vladimir Tarasenko trade to the New York Rangers a week ago. Chicago is coming off of what’s probably the most thrilling win of the season: a late rally that beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on Friday night in Canada. Ottawa’s much closer to Chicago in the NHL standings than Toronto is, though.

After Saturday’s results, the Blackhawks are back in the lowest spot in the league standings based on points with 39, although both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks share a slightly lower points percentage at .357, compared to the Hawks’ .361. A regulation loss in this game would drop the Hawks’ mark to .354 and confirm their spot at the very bottom of the league. Or at the top of the draft lottery odds, depending on perspective.

At least they’ll look good when they play in this game, though:

Let’s go Hawks(?)

Tale of the Tape

Blackhawks — Statistic — Maple Leafs

43.04% (32nd) — Corsi For — 51.64% (8th)

40.88% (31st) — Expected goals for — 54.09% (4th)

2.40 (32nd) — Goals per game — 3.35 (8th)

3.62 (28th) — Goals against per game — 2.67 (6th)

55.6% (1st) — Faceoffs — 52.2% (7th)

18.0% (26th) — Power play — 25.4% (4th)

75.6% (24th) — Penalty kill — 80.2% (15th)

How to watch

When: 5 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago


Stream: ESPN+, Hulu (Yes, it’s one of those online-only broadcasts)