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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, October 19th (All times Eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (6-2-0) at Chicago Blackhawks (4-1-2), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Dave Bolland was once a contributor to the Chicago Blackhawks' recent dominance of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now he'll try to reverse the Leafs' fortunes in this series on Saturday night when he makes his return to the United Center.
The Maple Leafs have not bested the Blackhawks in over 10 years, since a 3-1 victory in Chicago on Feb. 12, 2003. The 'Hawks have won each of the past seven encounters since, scoring at least three goals in each game and five or more in four of them.
Bolland appeared in three of those games for the Blackhawks, notching a goal and three assists before getting traded to the Maple Leafs this past June for a pair of 2013 draft picks and another selection in 2014.
The 27-year-old was a second-round pick by Chicago in 2004 and posted 70 goals and 98 assists in 332 regular-season games with the Blackhawks. He figures to get a nice reception tonight as the last time Chicago fans saw him in a 'Hawks jersey, he was putting home the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in Game 6 of the 2012 Finals.
"We'll see what happens," said Bolland, who won a pair of Cups with Chicago and confirmed it will be a novelty playing against former teammates and friends.
"You're enemies on the ice, but when you're off the ice you're best friends. It will be a hard-fought game. It will be a battle. It won't be an easy game against them. I think we all know how they play. It's going to be fun."
Said Chicago's Jonathan Toews of the reunion, "To win two Stanley Cups with him and be a close friend and teammate for a long time, you want to see him do well and he's one of those guys you always keep in touch with and look forward to playing against."
Bolland has three goals and six points this season, notching an assist in Thursday's 3-2 loss to Carolina, one that saw the new hybrid icing rule factor into the outcome.
The Maple Leafs led 2-0 after the second period on goals by Joffrey Lupul and Josh Leivo, the first of his career, but the Hurricanes stormed back with three goals in the third period.
The third one on Toronto netminder Jonathan Bernier came on a shot from Carolina's end as Ron Hainsey played the puck up the ice and off the left boards. The puck hit off the backboards and towards the crease, where Bernier took a swipe at it but missed and the puck hit off his skate and in.
"It was just a bad mistake by my part. I looked up and see where my options were. The puck was probably spinning a lot, and I misjudged it," said Bernier, who added he thought the play would be icing.
"It's the new game and we all have to adjust, but it's not an excuse."
Bernier was pressed into action 32 seconds into the game when James Reimer had to exit his start after getting hit in the head during a collision with Leivo. Reimer had faced just one shot before his exit and Bernier ended with 34 saves as Toronto lost for just the second time in eight games this season.
"We had so many good things going for us coming into the game," said Lupul. "It was just one of those nights where things didn't work out for us the way we wanted them to."
Reimer was able to practice on Friday and is expected to be available for this game. So is forward James van Riemsdyk, who sat out the past two games with back spasms.
Both Bernier and Reimer have faced the Blackhawks just once before and both took a loss. Bernier allowed three goals on 28 shots in his outing, while Reimer was tagged for five goals on 19 shots.
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, were denied a fourth straight victory on Thursday as they lost 3-2 in a shootout to the St. Louis Blues.
Corey Crawford made 26 saves, but yielded the deciding tally to T.J. Oshie in the first round of the tiebreaker, while Patrick Kane, Toews and Patrick Sharp all came up empty on their attempts.
Brandon Pirri netted his first career score and Marian Hossa added a goal for the Blackhawks, who have not scored more than three goals in any of their six games since a season-opening 6-4 win over Washington on Oct. 1.
"I think we're having a tough time finding the back of the net," Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "With that being said, we have to muscle these games out. That's the mindset we have to have when we're not scoring goals."
Crawford is 1-0-0 with a 4.50 goals against average in two career meetings with the Maple Leafs.
10/19 10:32:49 ET