Toronto Maple Leafs @ Chicago Blackhawks
United Center at 2:00 PM
Watch on TSN4, NBCSCH
Again, note that for Canadian viewers outside the Leafs region, the game will be streamed on Sportsnet Premium or + or whatever it's called this week.
The Leafs last played in Sweden on Sunday where William Nylander won it in overtime over the Wild. The Leafs record is 10-5-2.
Chicago last played on Wednesday in Columbus where they lost by a score of 7-3. Their record is 5-12-0 so far.
Chicago wanted Connor Bedard to be the story of their season, and for no one to notice how bad they are. Instead they helped Columbus get their self respect back by using both goalies in a blowout while making the news for the wrong kinds of reasons.
Something mysterious is up with Corey Perry, who was supposed to play in Columbus but was scratched and then failed to appear at practice. We can hope he's still not in the lineup. Taylor Hall's season is over, due to knee surgery, and someone should be asking the medical department in Chicago why he was allowed to play post-injury.
As we saw the last time the Leafs played Chicago, they are a very bad team, but have some hidden talents. Alex Vlasic took the Leafs apart quite handily, and Kevin Korchinski is the other exciting rookie. The top line can score, and that's about it. The Perry and Hall show necessitated the recall of old friend Joey Anderson, though, which gives the third line a different sort of axe to grind.
Charlie Roumeliotis via Daily Faceoff are from yesterday's practice.
Lukas Reichel - Connor Bedard - Philipp Kurashev
Tyler Johnson - Cole Guttman - Taylor Raddysh
Nick Foligno - Jason Dickinson - Joey Anderson
Boris Katchouk - Ryan Donato - Reese Johnson
Alex Vlasic - Seth Jones
Kevin Korchinski - Connor Murphy
Wyatt Kaiser - Isaak Phillips
Arvid Soderblom - confirmed starter
The Leafs have some question marks surrounding the roster for today, and have also recalled an AHLer in Alex Steeves. Calle Järnkrok blocked a shot in practice and has had it looked at. He didn't suffer any lasting damage, per reports, but he is a maybe for today's game.
Conor Timmins has to be activated off of LTIR to play today, but he featured in the lineup at practice. Simon Benoit is still on the roster, however.
Reaves drew in with an absent Järnkrok yesterday, but Steeves could play in that spot as well.
Most recent lines without Järnkrok:
Matthew Knies - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi - John Tavares - William Nylander
Nicholas Robertson - Max Domi - Noah Gregor
Bobby McMann - David Kampf - Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Mark Giordano - Jake McCabe
William Lagesson - Conor Timmins
Ilya Samsonov - confirmed starter
I notice all the "Leafs facing Kyle Dubas" stories are starting up now, as if this game isn't real, and only Saturday's counts. But Chicago is a team coming off a humiliating loss, and facing a team they'd really like to win against for the second time. They aren't just going to fall back and leave the path open to their struggling goalie. That's the Leafs' M.O.
That troubling defensive collapse, well in evidence in the last game the Leafs played, needs to stop. Eight of the Leafs 17 games were one-goal games, seven of those decided in overtime or a shootout, and six of them wins for the Leafs. The more of those tight contests they have, the greater the likelihood that friendly proportion of wins starts to slide back towards 50%.
The 4-1 loss to Chicago back in October wasn't a lot of fun, but it also wasn't an isolated incident. The Leafs have been beaten by three goals twice more since.
This game is real, Kyle Dubas and the Penguins are tomorrow's problem, and everyone needs to shake off the Swedish hangover and get down to business today.
Go Leafs Go!