High-flying Blackhawks prepare to face the struggling Maple Leafs
The last time the Blackhawks (23-6-5) saw the Toronto Maple Leafs (16-14-3), they were welcoming Dave Bolland's new team to the United Center.
Unfortunately, due to an injury sustained in a game in Vancouver on November 2nd, Bolland will not be in the lineup this Saturday night. The Leafs are without two of their top centers, because Tyler Bozak is also on IR due to an oblique injury.
The Maple Leafs have been struggling as of late. Early in the season, Toronto had a solid spot in the playoff rankings. They have gone 5-3-2 in their past ten games, and have slipped to second place in the Eastern wild card standings, 3 points ahead of Ottawa.
Toronto is currently on a three-game losing streak, having lost to Boston and Los Angeles on home ice, and got plastered 6-3 by St. Louis.
The Leafs admitted after the Blues game that it was not their best game. They have not won in regulation in the past 12 games. Coach Randy Carlyle said his team had looked "brain-dead in a lot of areas" and that there was a lot of concern for the team's play.
Despite being down both their starting goalie Corey Crawford and primary backup Nikolai Khabibulin due to injuries, the Blackhawks aren't worried. In fact, the team has been clicking well, and has outscored opponents 19-6 over their past three games.
Rookie Antti Raanta has performed well - even better than could be expected after being called up from the AHL - going 5-0-1 with 2.12 GAA and .926 sv% in his first six games.
Meanwhile, Patrick Kane has played himself solidly into Art Ross discussions, earning 42 points in 34 games, just two points behind Sidney Crosby. Kane has evolved into a more mature, better-rounded player over the past two seasons, and is currently on a pace that could see him break 100 points for the first time in his career. His best previous season was 88 points (2009-2010).
The Blackhawks currently lead the league with 14 games where they have scored five or more goals; Chicago has averaged 3.68 goals/game.
Where to watch: Chicago - WGN; Canada - CBC (Hockey Night in Canada); radio: WGN 720 AM
Time: 6:00 p.m. CST / 7:00 p.m. EST