There are only two games on the card tonight, as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks meet at the United Center, and the Kings and Flames dance in Calgary. What a pitiful effort from the Kings last night, as they were demolished by the Canucks, 6-2. They snapped a losing streak, and then they got right back to playing losing hockey. So much for their 1st place defence, as they allowed a Canucks team who haven’t been able to score on a high school team put up 6 goals.
Awful start for their road trip in western Canada. We’re going to Chicago, though, where the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks are set for what should be a pretty good one. The Leafs have just one win in their last six games. They defeated the Senators, and then took a loss to the Avalanche right after. The Avs have been on an absolute tear, and the best move they’ve seemed to make is getting rid of Matt Duchene. Good player, but it was clear his presence was becoming a distraction.
The Blackhawks have been limping around as well. They enter on a three-game losing streak, and losers in four of five. They desperately need to get Corey Crawford back in net, as they’ve needed to settle with Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass. It’s a moot point, though. The Hawks had no concept of scoring with Crawford in net and it’s continuing for the most part. You can get away with it when Crawford is in net for so long, but offence is pretty imperative when the likes of Forsberg and Glass are playing in the crease. Their average goals per game doesn’t look so bad, 2.96 per, but they’ve been getting used to skewing their numbers with big scoring outings in a single game, and then floundering for stretches at a time for four or five games. Case in point, they’ve averaged just 1.2 goals per game in their last five games, and in two of their last three outings, they were shutout. Glass is expected to get the nod in net tonight. Head below for our free Maple Leafs vs. Blackhawks pick in the NHL on Wednesday.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Chicago Blackhawks Pick
The level of frustration in Toronto has been apparent. Netminder, Frederik Andersen, called out his team following another sloppy performance. In a nutshell, in the nicest way possible, he pointed out how some players are not carrying the load, and there has been a lack of effort. There have been no faults in Andersen of late. He had the slow start in the first month, but has responded in a big way. Andersen just needs some help from his blue line. The most glaring problem lately has been their offence, though. For a team with the firepower they have, averaging 2.1 goals per game over their last ten games is not pretty. Overall, they are averaging 3.08 per game, so we’ll see if they can retrace back to their average soon.
Forsberg was rocked against the Islanders the other night, allowing 5 goals, giving way to Glass in net. It didn’t help much as Glass allowed a couple of goals in relief duty, finishing with a save percentage of 0.818. He got the start in the next outing, playing well against the Lightning, but ultimately losing, 2-0. Not much he could have done about that one. Overall Glass holds a 3.17 GAA. As a team, the Hawks have allowed 3 goals per game in their last ten. The odds would suggest this game is a toss-up, and it certainly isn’t a slam dunk play, but it’s for me to back Jeff Glass against Frederik Andersen. This should be a slump buster game for the Maple Leafs, as the offence gets going and finds some confidence in Chicago.
PICK: MAPLE LEAFS (-110)