Blackhawks-Maple Leafs: An Original Six Showdown in Toronto

Craig NuzzoCorrespondent INovember 21, 2008

I am officially on Thanksgiving break, so that means I am at home, which also means I can watch the 'Hawks games on WGN; just in time for another " original six showdown." Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008 at 6:00 PM, the Chicago Blackhawks (9-4-5) will be up against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7-8-4) at the Air Canada Centre.

Chicago has had an excellet start to it's "Circus Trip" thus far, going 2-0 away from the United Center.

Let us now look at what the 'Hawks need to accomplish to fold over the Leafs:


Keys of the Game

Kris Versteeg: He has had the hot stick, scoring four goals in his current three game goal streak. So, it's simple, pass him the puck. Do I see another Calder Trophy in Chicago? Not to mention he was my Most Underrated Chicago Blackhawk in the roundtable discussion: Who is the Most Underrated Blackhawk?

Kill the Power Play or Don't Commit Penalties: The Leafs have a solid power play at 21.5 percent. Although, if the 'Hawks don't commit senseless penalties then it won't be a problem.

Power Play Goals: The Leafs also have one of the worst penalty killing units, allowing opponents to convert 26.7 percent of it's chances. So, if this game has a lot of penalties the game will be high scoring.

Goaltending: The question of whether or not Joel Quenneville goes with the "hot handed" net minor or the No.1 will be decided in Toronto. Khabi has looked pretty solid in his last two road games while stopping 31 shots against Dallas. He was also named the No. 1 "Star of the Game." I think Huet will have his turn against the Leafs.

Stop Mikhail Grobovski: The Leafs star center has scored eight times in his last eight games. That is a lot of eights. The 'Hawks need to keep the puck away from him.

Duncan Keith: In my opinion, Keith has not performed his defensive duty to his full potential. Hopefully, he can knock some more guys down and steal a few more passes on Canadian ice.

88, 19 & 10: Three of my favorite Chicago hockey numbers; three of which should have the five goals against the Leafs. The other two goals will be from No. 32 and maybe even another from No. 55.


Prediction: 'Hawks 5-4

The 'Hawks are 3-0 against the Leafs dating back to 2004. Let's leave Canada with a 4-0 record since then, and a 3-0 record on the "Circus Trip." Maybe then I can actually enjoy the circus, ha-ha.