CBC, NHL Net (US)
The red hot Chicago Blackhawks, winners of their last seven games, visit the Air Canada Centre tonight for Hockey Night in Canada. The defending Stanley Cup champions seem to have awoken from their post-cup hangover, led by captain Jonathan Toews' NHL high 24 points since the All-Star break. Fellow Hawk and sometimes line-mate Patrick Kane is second in scoring with 19 points. Chicago is an experienced, fast, and highly skilled hockey club that seems to be peaking at the right time (and separating themselves from the clusterfuck that is the Western Conference playoff race).
They'll be in town to face another streaking hockey team, your Toronto Maple Leafs. The Buds have picked up points in nine consecutive games, including six wins. A win tonight would propel the Leafs to within 2 points of the idle Carolina Hurricanes.
More after the jump...
The match-up in net tonight will feature two rookies. Corey Crawford was a second round pick by the Blackhawks in the 2003 NHL draft (more talent continues to come out of that draft). After playing 255 games in the AHL over five seasons, he supplanted Marty Turco as Chicago's no. 1 goalie in mid November and hasn't looked back.
|2010 - Corey Crawford||40||2378||25||12||86||2.17||1080||994||.920||3|
At the other end of the rink will be James Reimer. This young man needs no introduction to Leaf fans. He has been the catalyst for their playoff push and the Leafs will continue to lean on the young Manitoban as long as they can.
|2010 - James Reimer||21||1160||12||4||44||2.28||622||578||.929||2|
Expect the Keith Aulie/Dion Phaneuf pairing to get the assignment against the Toes/Kane line. The Leafs defense will need to move the puck quickly north-south, as the Blackhawks have an excellent forecheck. Things could go wrong very quickly if Toronto is sloppy in their own zone. The Blackhawks also have the NHL's #1 powerplay, so staying out of the penalty box is an absolute must.