Leafs Look To Rebound Against the Blackhawks
MAPLE LEAFS (6-2-0) at BLACKHAWKS (4-1-2)
TV: CBC, NHLN-US, WGN
Season series: This will be the first of two games the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks will play this season, with the second meeting on Dec. 14 at Air Canada Centre. The teams last met on Feb. 29, 2012 in Chicago, with the Blackhawks outlasting Toronto for a 5-4 win.
Big story: This will be Maple Leafs center Dave Bolland's first return to Chicago, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013 with the Blackhawks. He scored the game-winning goal against the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final to clinch the series. Bolland was traded to Toronto about a week later for salary cap purposes.
Maple Leafs: After having a long shot bounce off the end boards and off the right skate of goalie Jonathan Bernier into the net for a goal that gave the Carolina Hurricanes a win Thursday night, Toronto comes to Chicago hoping to forget about bad luck. The Maple Leafs also lost goaltender James Reimer to injury against the Hurricanes when he collided with his own teammate, forward Josh Leivo less than a minute into the game when he caught a knee to the head. It was eerily similar to an incident a couple years ago when Montreal Canadiens forward Brian Gionta collided with Reimer and knocked him out for months with head and neck issues. Reimer practiced Friday and plans to back up Bernier in Chicago.
"With these things, you never really know," Reimer told the Toronto Sun. "I have to judge how I feel in the morning again. The way I feel today, I should be ready to go for [Saturday]."
Blackhawks: It could be worse, but coach Joel Quenneville still isn't thrilled with his team's start to its Cup defense. The Blackhawks, one of the deepest teams in the NHL last season, are struggling to score more than two goals a game and have already dropped a pair of shootouts this season, including a 3-2 decision to the rival St. Louis Blues on Thursday at United Center. Unlike last season, when the lineup stayed nearly the same, Quenneville has juggled his forward lines quite a bit already. He split up stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane against the Blues for the first time this season, but more changes likely lie ahead after a lackluster showing on home ice.
"Awful," Quenneville said, assessing the Blues game afterward. "Didn't like our game at all. [The] first 12 minutes I liked. After that, [we] slowed down. We stopped getting it behind them, or getting it at the net. We slowed ourselves down."
Who's hot: Bolland has points in three straight games, including a goal and two assists, for Toronto, while Marian Hossa is heating up for Chicago. Hossa has scored goals in back-to-back games and also had an assist Thursday against the Blues.
Injury report: James van Riemsdyk missed another game with back spasms, but is believed to be close to returning for the Maple Leafs. Toronto also has defenseman Mark Fraser (lower body) on long term injured reserve and forward Nikolai Kulemin out with a chipped bone in his ankle … Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival missed the game Thursday with an illness.