The Toronto Maple Leafs welcome the Chicago Blackhawks to Scotiabank Arena for an Original Six rivalry game on Saturday night. Toronto are on the heels of a 2-1 loss against the Flames in a shootout on Thursday night. The offence that just scored 11 goals in two games leading up to that contest was nowhere to be found. It was a defensive clinic by the Flames and David Rittich, and the showing came against the top ranked offence the league. The Leafs put on an offensive clinic versus the Devils a game prior, as they netted 7 goals for a 7-4 victory.
New Jersey have been playing better hockey recently, though they were no match for a Toronto offence that was clicking. Their ultra slow start may be too much to overcome by now, though. A repeat performance like the St. Louis Blues did last season is unlikely. The Devils were able to move a big contract this season, and it’ll be interesting to see if they do some more selling at the trade deadline. In any event, the Leafs have an offence that are known to punish sloppy play in the defensive zone.
Toronto didn’t lack action around the Calgary Flames’ net. Rittich stopped 35 of 36 shots to carry the Flames to a shootout. It’s inevitable that even the hottest of offences can run into a hot goaltender, and Rittich certainly rose up to the occasion for a marquee performance. The one time that the Leafs’ defence and Frederik Andersen actually do something, the Leafs struggle to buy a goal on the other end. They will look to convert Saturday night against the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks are coming off a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday evening. It was their third straight win to bring their record up to 22-20-6 and 50 points. That provides a puncher’s chance of a playoff berth for the Blackhawks. They have the Jets and Oilers ahead of them for a wildcard, with the Blackhawks down by 5 points.
It will not be easy, but the Blackhawks have decent enough talent to make it interesting down the stretch. They have a tough challenge in Toronto tonight, but have already recorded a 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs earlier in the season. Head below for our free Blackhawks vs. Maple Leafs pick.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Betting Odds:
Blackhawks vs. Maple Leafs Prediction:
The Blackhawks beat the Maple Leafs at their own game in the first meeting. They got into a run and shoot game, which ultimately favoured the Maple Leafs on that day. Despite 57 shots by the Maple Leafs, the Blackhawks were able to edge them out for a 5-4 win. Patrick Kane racked up 2 goals in that one, as part of his 24 goals on the season. Kane has been by far the most productive Blackhawk this season. While Jonathan Toewes has regressed, Kane keeps playing at a high level. He leads the team with 60 points, while Toews, who has the next most points, has 39 heading into Toronto. Toews had a really slow start, so he’s picked it up more recently.
Chicago has been playing well on the offensive end recently. During their three-game winning streak, the Blackhawks have scored an average of 3.6 goals per game. Their last ten outings has produced 3.5 goals a game, with at least 4 goals scored in six of those ten games. The Blackhawks are likely going to need all of the goals they can get on Saturday night against the Maple Leafs. And in three meetings since 2018, that’s certainly been the case for them. The Blackhawks have registered 17 goals in three games against the Leafs for an average of 5.3 goals.
That scoring onslaught helped the Blackhawks win two of those three games. In the loss, the Blackhawks failed to keep up in a 7-6 loss last season. The Leafs have had a knack for piling on the goals in 2019-20. They enter Saturday a sliver behind the Panthers for the No. 1 offence in the NHL. Toronto has scored 3.6 goals per contest overall this season. Despite only 1 goal in their last showing, the offence has been on fire with 4.1 goals per game in their last ten outings. The defensive talent and effort hasn’t been present, though. With Jake Muzzin already out of the lineup, the Leafs were dealt a sizable blow with an injury to Morgan Rielly.
It’s the one thing that the Leafs didn’t need to happen right now, but Toronto will have to try and survive without Rielly. As a team, the Leafs rank 23rd in the NHL with 3.23 goals allowed per game. Over the course of their last ten games, they’ve yielded 3.5 goals per game, as Andersen has struggled to keep up with the constant pressure at times. The Blackhawks have been successful against him in the past, as he owns a 3.03 GAA and 0.902 save percentage in nine games versus the Blackhawks. I’d look for a high-scoring game here, with the OVER an attractive bet on Saturday at Scotiabank Arena.