Chicago Blackhawks (2-0-0-0 SU, 2-0 PL, 2-0-0 O/U) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (2-0-0-0 SU, 2-0 PL, 2-0-0 O/U)
When: 7:05 PM EDT, Monday, October 9, 2017
Where: Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario
Lines: Toronto -130/Chicago +110
Tonight on the ice, the Central Division will square off with the Atlantic Division as the Chicago Blackhawks rumble with the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The Blackhawks won both meetings last year, with both games going to OT. Goalie Probables: Corey Crawford will get the start for the Blackhawks in this one and the Maple Leafs will counter with Frederik Andersen.
Blackhawks Are Playing With Chip On Their Shoulders
The Chicago Blackhawks led the Western Conference in points last year, but then lost in four straight games to the Nashville Predators in the 1st round of the playoffs. It really was a shocking end to a very good season for them, but they didn’t sulk about as they made some nice moves in the offseason and have come out with fire in their eyes this year as they won game one by a 10-1 score over the Penguins and then beat Columbus by a score of 5-1. The Blackhawks are clearly playing with a chip on their shoulders. Corey Crawford has gotten off to a very nice start for the Blackhawks and he allowed just one goal on 33 shot attempts in the win over the Blue Jackets. He has now stopped 60 of the 62 shot attempts that he has faced thus far. Last year he was 32-22 with a 2.55 GAA on the year overall, including 16-12 with a 2.85 GAA on the road. Crawford is trying to shake off a bad postseason that saw him allowed 12 goals in the four games against the Predators. In his career, he has gone 101-81 with a 2.46 GAA on the road and 26-19 with a 2.17 GAA in October, plus 31-16 with a 2.01 GAA against the Atlantic Division, while against the Maple Leafs he has gone 3-1 with a 2.51 GAA. Scoring in the win over Columbus was Patrick Kane (2nd), Brandon Saad (4th), Jonathan Toews (1st), Jan Rutta (1st career goal) and Richard Panik (2nd).
Chicago was solid on offense last year as they ranked 9th in the league in scoring at 2.93 gpg, while also ranking 11th in shots taken (30.6 spg) and 19th in power play conversions, converting on 18.0% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they were decent as they ranked 11th in goals allowed, giving up 2.59 gpg, while also ranking 22nd in shots allowed (31.4) and 24th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 22.3% of their chances.
Maple Leafs Are Off To A Fast Start
The Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the surprise teams in the league last year as they made the postseason a year after posting one of the worst records in this league. They year they figure to be stronger and they have started out that way, especially at the offensive end of the Ice as they have scored 15 goals through their first two games. This was one of the best offensive teams in the league last year and it has followed them to this year. In their opener, they beat Winnipeg by a score of 7-2 and then followed it up with an 8-5 win over the Rangers on Saturday. Seven different Leafs scored in the game and surprisingly none of them were Auston Matthews. Zach Hyman led the attack with two goals in the game, while Nazem Kadri notched his 2nd of the year. This offense has been explosive so far and you can look for it to continue as they have a lot of weapons. Frederik Andersen got the win against the Rangers, despite the fact that he allowed five goals on 35 shot attempts. He is now 2-0 with a 3.50 GAA on the year. Last year, Andersen was 33-30 with a 2.67 GAA overall, including 17-17 with a 2.61 GAA here at home. In his career, he has gone 57-32 with a 2.38 GAA in his home starts and 14-13 with a 2.39 GAA in October, while against the Central he has gone 24-16 with a 2.62 GAA, including 1-5 with a 2.72 GAA against the Blackhawks.
Toronto was 5th in the league in scoring last year at 3.05 gpg, while also ranking 4th in shots taken (31.9 spg) and 2nd in power play conversions, converting on 23.4% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they had their struggles as they ranked 22nd in goals allowed, giving up 2.85 gpg, while also ranking 28th in shots allowed (32.6) and 10th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 17.5% of their chances.
- The Over is 17-5-7 in their last 29 road games
- The Over is 14-5-2 in their last 21 vs. the Atlantic
- The Over is 9-4-2 in the last 15 meetings here in Toronto
- The Over is 8-3 in their last 11 games following a win
This should be a dynamite game between a couple of teams that have gotten off to solid starts so far. The Blackhawks have outscored their first two opponents by a combined 15-2, while the Leafs have outscored their first two by a combined 15-7. Corey Crawford has been excellent in the crease so far, but the Leafs will be a very strong offensive team as they have shown this year so far. Toronto will need that offense to show up nightly as Frederik Andersen is not the greatest in the crease. He has allowed seven goals in his first two games and the Blackhawks have scored 15 goals in their first two games. I really don’t expect a whole lot of defense in this one as both offenses are just too strong and will put at least eight goals on the board. Take the Over here.