Toronto Maple Leafs (6-1-0) at Chicago Blackhawks (4-1-1)
|Date & Time||Saturday October 19, 2013, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Chicago Blackhawks / Toronto Maple Leafs --- Over/Under:
The Maple Leafs and Blackhawks square off in what many are calling the game of the week as both teams have a Cup or bust mentality surrounding them this season.
The Maple Leafs suffered heartbreak to end the season against the Bruins last year but they seem to have used that as motivation as they’re off to one of the best starts in the league and are soaring atop the Atlantic division with a 6-2 record. Toronto has looked sloppy at times but have been able to generate victories behind some timely scoring and an unbelievable start to the year from Jonathan Bernier who ranks among the league’s best in all significant goaltender marks. The Leafs will have their hands full as the Hawks are coming off a tough loss at home to the Blues and will be motivated to give the Madhouse something to cheer about so the environment will surely be hostile.
Chicago has looked the part of defending Stanley Cup champions but with a target on your back from every opponent who skates onto the opposite side of the arena every single night it has to take its toll both physically and mentally. The Hawks have a ton of talent remaining from their two recent Cup titles and while they have lost some key pieces including new Maple Leafs forward Dave Bolland, Chicago is still very dangerous and should be motivated here. However, these teams are a lot closer than this line indicates and I actually prefer the Leafs on the road in this spot as opposed to playing at home. I think Bernier bounces back from his worst outing of the year and gives the Leafs a huge win on the road.