The Maple Leafs are in Chicago tonight to take on the Blackhawks. Here are the three keys to a Leafs win.
Keep it simple
It sounds obvious, but the Leafs can ill-afford to play the way they have as of late and expect to keep things close against a top team while on the road. Sure, it worked against Detroit at Joe Louis Arena. The difference here lies in Chicago’s high-powered offence, which ranks sixth in the NHL in goals for per game. A back-to-basics approach will be necessary for the Leafs. Chicago can be a hostile environment for the road team, and Toronto is no exception.
Cool them down
The Blackhawks have won 15 of their last 19 games and are helped by the fact they will have Duncan Keith back in the lineup, after he was held out with an undisclosed illness that wasn’t mumps. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have combined for 27 of Chicago’s 102 goals. The shutdown line will have their hands full.
Win the faceoffs
The Maple Leafs face their third-straight opponent with a faceoff proficiency within the top-10 of the NHL. It’s the key to getting the possession game in their favour. The Leafs have done a better job at it against some other opponents, but against Carolina and Philly, they have started to deteriorate in this category.
There is reason for optimism. In addition to being 14-3-2 against above .500 opponents this season, the Leafs are 5-1-1 on the tail end of back-to-backs. There will be no shortage of motivation as the Leafs look for a bounce back effort.