The Chicago Blackhawks will take their first road trip of the season on Monday, as they take on the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs.
Both the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs have been off to a red-hot start to the season, scoring 15 goals apiece through their first two games of the season. That is a goal-scoring start that hasn’t been seen in the NHL in nearly 30 years, with the 1989 Calgary Flames the last team to accomplish that feat.
For the Blackhawks, their success has come primarily at even strength, as all 10 of their goals in their first game were scored at five-on-five. They finally got on the board on the power play in their second game, but their special teams’ units still have not quite gotten their act together in the season’s early going.
The Maple Leafs have benefitted from a balanced scoring attack, with 12 different players scoring goals in their first two wins. A young and energetic team, the Maple Leafs have a ton of speed among their forwards, but they’re still working on trying to get their defense and goaltending into form as the season gets underway.
Saad – Toews – Panik
Hartman – Anisimov – Kane
Sharp – Kero – DeBrincat
Bouma – Wingels – Hayden
With Nick Schmaltz out of the lineup, the Blackhawks are going to need a slightly more balanced scoring attack than what they showed in the first two games. Patrick Kane’s line has been the primary driving force behind the team’s offense in the early going, with Kane and Ryan Hartman combining for 12 points in two games.
That means that Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews will have to be in good form against Toronto, but so too will the line of Tanner Kero, Alex DeBrincat, and Patrick Sharp. Look for that group to get some opportunities against a Toronto defense that has been less than stellar early on, and the line will need to get their mojo working to help the Blackhawks to victory.
One other key to the game will involve goaltender Anton Forsberg, who will get the start in goal for the first time this season. Forsberg showed some skill in the preseason, but he will need some help from his defense, notably Brent Seabrook and Michal Kempny, as he looks to grab his first win as a member of the Blackhawks.
Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., and the game will air on NBC Sports Chicago.