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Photo Credit: Matt Marton / USA TODAY Sports

LGD: Talk the talk, walk the Hawks

After a roller coaster week, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be looking to carry the statement they made in Tampa Bay over to a game against the team they hope to be long-term successors to, the Chicago Blackhawks. Here’s what’s about to go down. 

The Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

Don’t expect much to change. I don’t even know why we bother describing things in this paragraph anymore; unless someone gets hurt, nobody gets pulled out of the lineup or even really moved. Obviously, that makes more sense on a night like tonight: nearly everybody, from depth to start, played well on Thursday.

The Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

For all the chirping many of us did at Jonathan Toews during his cold streak… that’s a lot of to be determined down the middle outside of him. It’s always fun looking at Chicago for the first time in months and finding a new player you’ve never heard of before.

Starting Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen likely gets the nod for the Leafs tonight. After that shutout performance on Thursday, and with so much on the line against a good team tonight, how are you going to bet against him? You don’t, that’s how.

While I suppose there’s a chance that the Hawks could look elsewhere, I’d bet on Corey Crawford starting in goal. That should be a bit worrisome, seeing has he’s been > 0.950 in four of his last six appearances, but that could also mean that he’s due for a dull one. At least, that’s the hope.

What To Watch For

Endless comparisons between the two teams, especially now that, unlike the last time the two faced off, the average fan and reporter now has a greater idea of what the kids are. Tonight’s game is on at 7:00 PM and you can catch it on Hockey Night In Canada.

  • BarelyComments

    Just a question, do you think we have generally undervalued the effects of quality of competition/ zone starts when it comes to specifically looking at the Leafs defence? After all you often here that “Babcock matches lines as hard as any coach”. It seems most people seem to think statistics show that Gardiner is a no.1 defensemen and that Rielly is probably a bit over valued, and would fit better as a no. 2 or second pair defensemen, despite that they have been deployed in the reverse. However, it seems every time Gardiner is deployed as the no. 1 (i.e. last game versus TB or when Rielly went down with injury) he has a bad game. Conversely when Rielly was sent out as a second pair vs TB (I know… a tiny sample size) he posted Gardiner-like numbers, (63% Corsi, 1G, 1A). Is it possible Gards and Rielly are more similar defencemen than we think, and deployment are altering their results? Or am I just reading to much into a small amount of games.

    • lukewarmwater

      Good question Barely. Maybe Rielly is a bit more relaxed not facing the opposing teams top line which often will have a strong fore checking game. In Gardiner’s case the way teams try to negate him is by using that strong fore check as they expect him to cough up the puck or give it away in a hap hazard way. But indeed a longer sample of the two would prove to be interesting.