Preview/Game thread Chicago Blackhawks vs Toronto Maple Leafs

  

Toronto Maple Leafs (9–5–4) at Chicago Blackhawks (5–7–4)

6:00 p.m. CST
United Center
TV/Radio: NBCSN/WGN

Projected starting goaltenders

ChicagoRobin Lehner (3–3–2, .935 save percentage, 2.33 goals-against average)
TorontoMichael Hutchinson (0–3–1, .885 save percentage, 4.25 goals-against average)

Team statistics

Power play
Chicago (14.0%, 25th)
Toronto (16.4%, 21st)

Penalty kill
Chicago (81.1%, 17th)
Toronto (76.9%, 24th)

Shots for/against
Chicago
-30.6, 21st
-35.5, 30th
Toronto
-32.3, 13th
-33.0, 23rd

Shooting percentage
Chicago (6.28%, 29th)
Toronto (8.84%, 13th)

Face-off percentage
Chicago (48.3%, 25th)
Toronto (53.1%, third)

Average height and weight
Chicago — 6-foot-1, 196 pounds
Toronto — 6-foot-1, 200 pounds

Projected lines and pairings

Chicago Blackhawks

Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsAlexander Nylander
Alex DeBrincat — Dylan StromePatrick Kane
Dominik KubalikDavid KampfKirby Dach
Drake CaggiulaRyan CarpenterAndrew Shaw

Duncan KeithAdam Boqvist
Calvin de HaanBrent Seabrook
Olli Maatta Erik Gustafsson

Toronto Maple Leafs

Andreas JohnssonAuston MatthewsWilliam Nylander
Trevor MooreJohn TavaresKasperi Kapanen
Ilya MikheyevAlexander KerfootJason Spezza
Dmytro TimashovNick ShoreFrederik Gauthier

Morgan RiellyCody Ceci
Jake MuzzinTyson Barrie
Travis DermottJustin Holl

Analysis

No rest for the wicked for either team.  Both lost last night in shootouts and are looking for rebound wins.  The Leafs came back and tied the Flyers but ultimately weren’t able to hold on in the shootout.  The Blackhawks jumped out to a 2–0 lead and were not able to hang on against the Penguins.  For what seems like the twenty-fifth time this season, the Blackhawks failed their goaltender.  They were, however, able to grab that coveted “loser point”.

With all the hype surrounding the Leafs and their offensive circus of high paid players, they sit at eighth overall and second in the Atlantic division.  If you count OT losses as standings losses (we do), the Leafs are a .500 team.  Statistically, they sit in the middle or bottom third of the league in most categories.  Where they do excel most is faceoff percentage and puck possession metrics.  Basically, if they win the faceoff, they will generate some lethal offense.  They are, though, without one of their top scorers, in Mitch MarnerHe was injured last night at the opening faceoff of the second period and was forced to leave the game  Coach Mike Babcock said that he will undergo an MRI today to determine the extent of the injury.

The key for the Blackhawks will be to hanging onto puck possession long enough to keep John Tavares, Auston Matthews, and William Nylander out of Robin Lehner‘s face, which is a problem they have faced in just about every game this season.  The Blackhawks will also have a prime opportunity to take advantage of another Leafs shortcoming, their backup goaltender.  While Frederik Andersen has been outstanding early on this season, Michael Hutchinson has been abjectly awful this season.  That said, Hutchinson has always had Chicago’s number, beating them several times with the Winnipeg Jets and going 3–1–1 with a .961 save percentage and one shutout in six career games. This could be the slump buster that Hutchinson needs.

Will the Blackhawks finally break the Hutchinson jinx or will the Leafs simply overwhelm a tired and struggling team?

Comment below in our live game thread tonight!

And, be sure to look for the internet’s most robust recap of the game right here on The-Rink.com.

Center Ice Forums Preview/Game thread Chicago Blackhawks vs Toronto Maple Leafs

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