Chicago Blackhawks @ Toronto Maple Leafs
07:00 PM at Scotiabank Arena
Watch on: TVAS, SN, NBCSCH
The Leafs last game was at home on October 14 against the Minnesota Wild, which Toronto won by a score of 7-4. The Leafs have a record of 2-0-0 so far.
Chicago last played an away game on October 14 against the Montréal Canadiens. They lost by a score of 3-2, and their current league record is 1-2-0.
Taylor Hall likely returns to the Chicago lineup, but shouldn't be expected to be 100%. It's hockey tradition that you play hurt on a bad team, and it's a stupid one. Lines below are from their last game and subject to change.
Yes you will hear nonstop about Connor Bedard tonight, and I know that the Habs fan said that thing about Matthews, and that guy said Laine was better – you know that was a Habs fan too. Well, into every life some Habs fans must wander, but don't let them take the shine of the entire game.
Connor Bedard is the best player on Chicago, and he's fun and extremely talented, smart enough to study Auston Matthews closely to use his shooting techniques, and he can't go wrong. He's got the glorious wide-open empty ice sheet to carve his name in because there is no jeopardy attached to any of his bad choices this season.
Meanwhile watch out for the Good Dad/Bad Dad third line, likely the nastiest line on the team that can also score goals.
Scott Powers via Daily Faceoff
Ryan Donato - Connor Bedard - Taylor Raddysh
Tyler Johnson - Lukas Reichel - Andreas Athanasiou
Nick Foligno - Jason Dickinson - Corey Perry
Boris Katchouk - Cole Guttman - Reese Johnson
Alex Vlasic - Seth Jones
Kevin Korchinski - Connor Murphy
Wyatt Kaiser - Jarred Tinordi
Petr Mrázek - likely starter
The practice lines yesterday moved Max Domi to line three and Calle Järnkrok up. Sheldon Keefe had this to say, per Mark Masters on Twitter:
My focus with Max is how he manages the puck offensively. If you don’t take care of puck offensively you have to defend that much more. We want to do a better job when we lose the puck, but in Max’s case it’s how he can keep his group on offence more.
It's easy to just say a player is "bad" defensively, and walk away like you've nailed their game down, but Max Domi, like most players, is a little more complex than that. If you watched closely, you saw more than just the one obvious flub in the defensive zone in the first two games, and that led Keefe to actually make this line change mid game on Saturday.
But there are a lot of ways of getting defensive impact, and at this point in Domi's hockey career, he's 28 years old, he's not improving. He's embarking on the slow decline of all his skills and speed that will see him to retirement. So there's no point in Keefe trying to teach him defensive zone positioning and how to effectively engage and disrupt the opposing offence. Keefe is going after Domi's strengths – his measurable positive impact on offence creation – and trying to just not have him defend at all. Or as little as possible.
What does that mean? For a start, he can't pass the puck blindly to no one in the offensive zone. Possession is an easy thing to maintain. Anyone who's watched a pass-heavy power play unit has seen possession that seems to go on forever. But it doesn't win you games. I mean, it's a necessary precondition, but what wins you hockey games is choosing to give the puck away. You shoot it or you make a pass that only has a chance to connect, but if it does, boy, will it be a good one. This is the key moment in hockey where the brains of the players take ascendance over their bodily skills. And if you're thinking about Nick Robertson right now, you should be.
Domi absolutely must make the right choices with the puck most of the time. And he needs to put himself into the right position where those choices are possible. He can't be roaming the offensive zone and then end up with no choice but a blind pass into a sea of opposition players. (I think I've stopped entirely talking about Domi now.) He can't lose the puck at his own blueline because he has no play open.
And he's done all this right before! Domi, that is. He has those measurable positives to his game, and he hasn't fallen off an ageing cliff at 28. It's in there. This is the aspect of his game he must bring up quite a few notches, because if you expect him to do much other than cheat high in the defensive zone and start a two-on-one, you'll be disappointed.
Let's see how he does with some attempt at easier competition, and Matt Knies to win the board battles. Oh, and against the worst team in the NHL.
Tyler Bertuzzi - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
William Nylander - John Tavares - Calle Järnkrok
Matt Knies - Fraser Minten -Max Domi
Noah Gregor - David Kämpf - Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly - TJ Brodie
Jake McCabe - John Klingberg
Mark Giordano - Timothy Liljegren
Joe Woll – confirmed starter
The game commentary is going to be all about the new shiny – Fraser Minten's best pal.
The Leafs need to focus, not on him, but on paying attention to their offensive systems because even the worst team in the NHL has good players, and they tend to be skewed a little defensively because not having any offence (and playing Petr Mrázek) as your starter is the best way to tank.