Toronto Maple Leafs: Game against Blackhawks will test team’s discipline

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 18: Ryan Hartman
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 18: Ryan Hartman /

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ offence has been firing on all cylinders but the Chicago Blackhawks will not let them get away with making costly mistakes.

It is hard to not be impressed with the offensive output from the Toronto Maple Leafs two games into the season. It is something that the franchise has not done since its inaugural season. Now other NHL teams have taken notice of the firepower that this Leafs team possesses, but Saturday night’s win over the New York Rangers reminded us that this team still has some things to sort out.

The team was fortunate that Frederik Andersen played lights out in the season opener against the Winnipeg Jets and in the third period against the Rangers. However, with the Chicago Blackhawks in town, the Leafs could be in for a rude awakening if they do not clean up their mistakes that could have had the, singing a different tune early in the season.

Some of you may recall the first meeting between these two clubs last season when the Blackhawks scored two goals with 1:28 left in the third period to eventually beat the Leafs in the shootout. This could have happened against the Rangers but fortunately for the Leafs, their goaltending and offence bailed them out.

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Only one other team has equaled the Leafs goal total through two games this season, and that is the Blackhawks. Unfortunately for the Leafs, this Chicago looks to assert their dominance early in  the game, just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins who got pummeled 10-1, granted it was the second game of back-to-back for the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Chicago’s second game wasn’t much different as they dominated the Columbus Bluejackets 5-1.

This is a Blackhawks team on a mission to get back into contention after they were swept by Nashville. So far it is fair to say that they are not messing around. For the Leafs, this will be a test of their team discipline. So far it is hard to criticize a 2-0 start but this is the type of game that could force the team to make the necessary adjustments.

It will be interesting to see how Mitch Marner, Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk respond after their line had a tough game against the Rangers. Luckily for the Leafs, being at home gives them the ability to match lines so expect that group to see more offensive zone starts. However, this trio will need to get their defensive play sorted out otherwise something might have to change.

It will have to start with Bozak setting the example especially for Marner who made some brutal turnovers. Unfortunately for the Leafs, it did not cost them the game and hopefully Marner learned his lesson because this Blackhawks team will not let him get away with making those mistakes.

Next: 3 observations from 8-5 win over Rangers

This game could go one of two ways, an offensive show from both teams which favours the Leafs but if both teams try to play it safer then the Blackhawks have the advantage. This game is going to be a good test for the Leafs and if they come away with the win, it will help the confidence growing with this team.