Blackhawks welcome the Maple Leafs for Saturday night's showdown
The Chicago Blackhawks will be welcoming back one of their own on Saturday night - sort of.
Dave Bolland, who scored the game-winning goal in Game 6 of this year's Stanley Cup Final for the Blackhawks, was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer. Bolland had a lengthy tenure in the Blackhawks system - seven seasons, most of which was spent at the NHL level. He was a favorite for many fans due to his ability to get under the skin of opponents, a skill which earned him the nickname of "the Rat".
The Mimico, Ontario, native has found excellent chemistry and an increased offensive touch on the Leafs, and has started off his season with 3 goals and 3 assists in 8 games, including one power play goal and two game-winners.
It was reported earlier today by Mike Zeisberger via Twitter that the Blackhawks will have a video honoring Bolland that will play on the Jumbotron at some point Saturday night.
At 6-2-0, the Leafs currently sit at third in the East and second in the Atlantic division. Chicago, at 4-1-2, is third in the Central, and is coming off a 3-2 disappointing shootout loss versus the Blues.
While the Blackhawks might feel they know all the tricks up Bolland's sleeves, they will also be aware of how tenacious a competetor "the Rat" can be. Additionally, Toronto has been playing extremely well. While the Leafs are no doubt thankful that the Blackhawks defeated the team that had knocked Tornoto out of the playoffs, this is a new season - and what better way to prove your team's ability than to knock off the defending Cup champs?
The Leafs currently rank better than the Blackhawks both on the PP and the PK, as well as averaging more goals scored per game. But where the Blackhawks have an advantage over Toronto is shots for and against, and in the faceoff circle. Their most decisive win was a 4-0 win over Nashville. By comparison, Chicago has had 3 games decided by shoot outs, and 6 of 7 games were 1-goal decisions.
Jonathan Bernier (4-2-0, .940 sv%, 1.98 GAA) is expected to get the start for Toronto; he will face off against Corey Crawford (3-1-2, .919 sv%, 2.25 GAA).
Coach Joel Quenneville described Thursday night's game as "awful". He experimented with new line combinations at Friday's practice with the intent to find some new offensive chemistry. The only game the Blackhawks have really lit up their opponent was their first game of the season, a 6-4 win over the Capitals.
Illness/injury report: Michal Rozsival is expected to sit this game out after a recent illness; Michael Kostka will potentially get a game start against the team he played for before coming to the Blackhawks. James van Riemsdyk has missed games with back spasms; he make or may not be in for Saturday's game.
Saturday's game will be broadcast on WGN in the Chicago market; NHLN elsewhere in the US, and will lead off CBC's Hockey Night In Canada.