Robin Lehner Earns Blackhawks Huge Home Victory Over Leafs

After losing in a shootout in Pittsburgh on Saturday evening the Blackhawks came home to an excited Sunday crowd at the United Center. The Toronto Maple Leafs were in town, meaning William and Alexander Nylander would face each other in an Original Six matchup.

Chicago was coming off two improved efforts in a row and started with a bang. Less than 30 seconds into the game Jake Muzzin trucked Brandon Saad. Jonathan Toews didn’t like the high, cheap hit and went after Muzzin. Everything was happening at once.

Toews and Muzzin went to their respective boxes and Dylan Strome joined his captain as Chicago was short-handed early. Toronto did nothing with the advantage, however.

After that Chicago went to work offensively, putting together an impressive opening 20 minutes.

Patrick Kane stayed hot, scoring Chicago’s first goal of the night.

Almost seven minutes later Muzzin gave the puck away and Kirby Dach slammed home a Calvin de Haan rebound for the second goal of his rookie season.

Kane scored ten seconds later to extend the lead to 3-0 in favor of the Hawks.

And the beatdown was on.

William Nylander got Toronto on the board at 16:29 but 59 seconds later Toews scored a power play goal to give Chicago a 4-1 lead.

When the dust settled at the end of 20 minutes of hockey the Blackhawks had a three-goal lead. The Leafs out-shot the Hawks 15-12 in the first period. Both teams had two power plays; only one special teams goal was scored.

Toronto out-shot Chicago 16-15 in the second period but neither side scored. The Leafs had 31 shots in 40 minutes of hockey but only one went in through Robin Lehner, who continued his exceptional play.

The Leafs kept coming hard in the third period and it started to pay dividends. William Nylander scored his second of the night at 2:27 into the third to cut the lead to two.

Erik Gustafsson went to the box for hooking and four seconds into the Toronto power play John Tavares scored to cut the lead to one. Lehner stayed down after the goal was scored, grabbing what appeared to be his collarbone area. He stayed in the game, however. At the time of the Tavares goal, Lehner had already faced 48 shots with 7:19 left in regulation.

As the clocked crossed into the final four minutes of regulation a yard sale in front of the Hawks net turned into a race the other way. Drake Cagguila attacked and put a good pass on the stick of Toews, who set up Saad for the insurance goal. Chicago’s lead was back to two.

Michael Hutchinson went to the Toronto bench with 2:35 left in regulation. There was another pile up in front of Lehner and this time the Hawks were going to be short-handed. Zack Smith went to the box for hooking, giving Toronto a huge power play.

Andreas Johnsson scored with 42 seconds left in regulation. Toronto kept coming and Lehner kept slamming the door shut.

The final horn sounded and Lehner had earned the hell out of two points for the Blackhawks.

Lehner finished the night with 53 saves in what can only be described as a heroic performance. He was absolutely marvelous again.

Alex DeBrincat had three assists. Kane had two goals and one assist. Dylan Strome had two assists. Toews had one goal and one assist. There was plenty of offense.

de Haan had a very good night on the back end. He skated 21:17 with one assist, three blocked shots and three hits.

Dach, who was a healthy scratch on Saturday, was limited to 7:43 but still managed to score his second goal of the season with two shots on net in spite of Jeremy Colliton continuing to “focus on development.”

Adam Boqvist, also a scratch on Saturday, was limited to 12:33 but still managed two shots on net, one blocked shot, one hit and was plus-two.

52 thoughts on “Robin Lehner Earns Blackhawks Huge Home Victory Over Leafs

  1. It’s nice the Hawks won, but when a team is consistently giving up a gazillion shots, something is schematically off.

    Who is responsible for the Hawks’ defensive scheme (s)? Maata sucks, let’s just call it what it is w him.

    We ll take it.

  2. The Hawks had an outstanding 1st period and took advantage of sloppy Toronto Defensemen who were getting no help from their forwards.The 2nd period was innocent enough with the Leafs goaltender playing much better and teams trading chances.The 3rd period is when the the Leafs top players took over the game and the Hawks lost structure and panicked not only conducting repeated fire drills in front of their net but failing to control the puck at all.Solid structured teams dont give up these quality shots and know how to close out games.Happy they won but Bowman has to grab a couple of bigger forwards and a center to control the play.

  3. According to Steve Konroyd on the post game show, that was the most shots the Hawks have given up in a non overtime game since giving up 60 shots against Pittsburgh in 1976! The inability to carry the puck out of their own end must be corrected and soon. Lehner has been terrific, easily the best player on the club so far this season. One other thing…it is a shame that the Leafs, and the other Original Six teams only come to town once a year. Part of the Bettmanization of the NHL.

  4. “solid structured teams…”. Per Tim.

    This is 1000% the coaching, or lack thereof, as to the Hawks. Say what you want about Q, this type of D play, and specifically the absurd # of shots, never transpired in his watch. Not even the last year and change he had.

    Thankfully the Hawks’ high end forwards/offense has woken up, and carrying the team along w the goalies. The coach is simply a coach in title.

  5. Good to see the offense bring it in 1st period, Lehner showing he is an elite goaltender is great news. The ineptitude of this defensive system just leaves too many question marks to have much consistent success.

  6. We will take the win. Glad the dump and chase is gone. Kane seems inspired again, but the defence zone play has to be corrected or it’s going to be a very long year. We can’t expect Lehner and Crawford to keep doing head stands .

  7. Love Lehner. Period. Great Goalie. Fantastic Leader.

    I hope Alex Nylander’s ceiling is as high as his brother’s because without Mitch Marner in the lineup tonight for the Leafs, Willie was a dominant player.

  8. Amazing, hard to think that was a win. I have to agree with the floating that Nylander does for several shifts per game. No wonder he hasn’t made it yet. And Gus, wow is he nonchalant with the puck, especially clearing the zone. 2 guys with gifts but can’t play consistent team hockey.
    This isn’t a playoff team-my God!

  9. WTF Gus?! – he almost single handedly handed the game back to TOR

    He certainly was responsible for turning the momentum in their favour big time

    At 4-1 the Hawks were doing a reasonable job until Gus took upon himself to let TOR back into the game…gifted them a goal and then a PP which lead to a goal 4 secs. later

  10. I don’t understand why the coach would have Matta and Seabrook on the ice on a four on four. Their too slow for that.

    Delighted with the win though.

  11. IMO the Hawks start to play prevent defence way too soon with the lead – and this isa pattern that JC has developed

    Dach only played 71/2 minutes and that’s because they had a big lead early and JC has shown he doesn’t trust Dach to hold a lead even though there’s no evidence that that’s the case

    This is also true of Boqvist – neither of them barely saw the ice in the third (again) and when they did they were effective but I guess in JC’s eyes they’re too young

    I think they should both be playing in those situations – I get not putting Dach into a key D zone FO but that’s not what’s happening here

    It’s a good thing to generate some offence when you’re protecting a lead but if the coach plays Smith in Dach’s place (and not just for a D zone FO) he’s sending a message to the team – don’t try and score just stop the other team from scoring but that rarely is very effective

    Sure the Hawks won the game but just barely and IMO would have been better served having both 77 and 27 playing more once they had a 4-1 lead

  12. This is not going to be an easy year. Nothing is easy with this team. They had some good bounces go their way tonight and still made it really, really difficult. 57 shots against is preposterous. Colliton has made some concept changes on offense by letting them play looser. Now he HAS to do something on defense. Gus melted down a couple times tonight. Nothing unusual about that.

    Glad to see the Big Boys starting to heat up. That probably wouldn’t have happened without the changes. How do you shoot a backhand as hard as Kane shot his? Some people just have remarkable, natural talent.

    I would think that when the puck is finding a guy and he is able to finish (Dach), you would give him more than 7 minutes of ice time – development or no development.

    Lehner is stunningly good. I can’t imagine how much it will take to sign him next year if this continues. Then the question becomes whether Crow would take $1 or $2 mil to stay. Probably not. Crow is still an excellent goaltender and probably will be next year as well. Delia’s numbers in Rockford are lousy but Lankinen’s are good. Maybe the future is Lehner/Lankinen instead of Lehner/Delia.

    It is always good when the Hawks get a win, but giving up 57 shots takes some of the joy out of it, given that this wasn’t really an exception. They have had games where they gave up 49, 51 (back to back) and now 57.

    BTW, did anybody see the replay of that goal that prospect Evan Barrett scored? The goalie had the lower part of the goal covered so he elevated the puck like players do when handing it to the ref and then batted it out of mid-air in to the net.

  13. Gus did make a fine defensive play preventing a Leaf forward from likely putting puck in wide open net and allowing Cagguila to pick up the puck and carry it into zone for Saads goal on what ended up being game winner. True on Leafs 2nd one giveaway wasn’t enough so he had to do it again. Plus the late penalty, but wonder if, going back to what Keith said the guys are thinking and trying too hard, instead of just playing, are some of these mistakes the cause of the defensive issues or a symptom of Collitons system, which is the real issue.

  14. Read where 5 times between 2013 and 18 the Blackhawks allowed more than 45 shots in a regulation game. Since Colliton took over they have allowed more than 45 shots 9 times and 3 of the last 4 games. That’s not improvement or the players doing the same as they always did, this is a big regression in that area that needs to be turned around. Just not convinced Colliton and his system will do it.

  15. If you listen to the players interviewed, they are all saying they got to get better defensively and help the goalies, not hang them out to dry. What they don’t say anymore is that buying into Collitons system and playing his way that will happen.

  16. What you see is a core group that quit on a coach, pouted and whined to the press. The coach gave in and now allows them to play hockey the way they want – one way. Get used to seeing leads get blown. Get used to seeing 50 shots against. Get used to seeing our goalies needing to be the star of the night.

    The players won. The tail is in full control. Defense be damned – it’s too hard to do and it ain’t no fun. Look at me – I can score goals!!!

    You can stop blaming the coach now. But I know you won’t.

    This method didn’t work for Q the last year plus he was here. It certainly isn’t gonna work with older slower players. Next coach will have the same problems.

    But, admittedly, it is more fun to watch.

  17. How awful does the Kahun for Maatta trade look now?

    Through 16 games Kahun has a CF of 61. +11 relative to the team. Maatta is under 40.

    Gee I wonder who could’ve seen that coming. FFS. No wonder we suck at maintaining possession and run fire drills period after period.

    It’s not about SIZE and SPEED. It’s about POSSESSION. We suck at it, and we keep trading young cheap players who are good at it. This from a team that supposedly prides itself in analytics. What a joke.

  18. Silent your defense of Colliton is really laufghable, if he can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    Travis Kahun carried 2.8m in performance bonus that would be counted against cap to have Dach and Strome in lineup. So capspace for Blackhawks would be almost same, was probably a big reason for trade.

  19. Kahun got a decent look lack year and although young, wasn’t a 20 year old kid.
    He looked/played like a depth piece guy who could play some top 6 minutes if needed. They can find another Kahun.
    Not saying they couldn’t use his speed but many out there now to find or draft and develop,

  20. All I can say, as a goalie growing up, Lehner was amazing – but if you offered me a contract ( which would have never happened!) to face 50+ shots or 40+ shots on a semi-regular basis…I’d hint for a safer team!
    If Dach & Boqvist are our future- GEEZ play them!!
    If the defensive strategy isn’t working ( and it’s not!) blow it up! Thank God for de Haan
    If you aren’t going to finish your checks or be “tough” on the puck- sit on the bench
    “It’s NOT a hard game, Steve”…
    Go Hawks!

  21. Its hard for me to see the hate for Maatta. The system might not be working consistently but I seem to recall him making a ton of important defensive plays last night. I’m still hoping Murphy can return and this defense can improve to a level of “good enough” which it seems like they’re slowly inching towards. If offense and goaltending is how things have to get done than so be it. At the very least, this win will hopefully create some momentum moving forward.

  22. So before these few games here, people said we were going to get crushed or something.

    We won or tied 5 of 6.

  23. You missed the point Ian. It’s not about defending a coach, The coach’s pedigree showed he could be successful. It’s not a sexy way to play, for sure. But he has won at every level he has coached, if I am not mistaken. So he doesn’t need defending. What he needs is cooperation.

    Last year when the punk kid took over the reigns from the board’s superhero coach, he wasn’t given a chance to succeed. The team pouted and they tumbled hard. But then they had a moment. Keith got run into the boards and the team responded. Suddenly players cared again and next thing you know, JC is a wizard and the team is rolling toward a playoff birth, even finding their way into the last 2 seeds. Ah, but the talent wasn’t strong enough and we wilted. I suppose we can blame the coach for all the losses and give the winning streak to the players. that seems fair – right?

    We have some super lazy players on our team, and the laziest is the highest paid superstar. Oh he is terrific, when he feels like playing. And that time isn’t when we need him the most – the DEFENSIVE zone. He’s not alone. What kind of leader is that? Washington went through it with Ovechkin, sat him for shifts, and he stuck to his guns. I SCORE GOALS. I TAKE STUPID PENALTIES. How many coaches did he get fired? Finally Barry Trotz got through to him – some how. Kane has had the advantage of a stronger support group for 3 cups and all those years in between. He doesn’t have it now. We need EVERY player – including him – to work hard to defend our zone, but why should I work hard if doesn’t have to do it? Lord knows we don’t have near the talent on the back line we had 5-10 years ago. They need help – some of them with even staying on their skates. But you can see who it is that is trying, most with considerably less talent.

    Hockey has evolved even more now into a TEAM game, where EVERYONE needs to be a team player, working at both ends. It’s easy to see who doesn’t. It’s also easy to blame a coach – they’ve done it for years in Edmonton. Firing coaches worked in STL last year, but it also worked here, once the babies got their thumbs out of their mouths and did their damn jobs. Clearly, some coaches do a better job of getting through to players – like Trotz. Some apparently not so much – like JC.

    I’m all for firing JC. It’s easier than firing 10 players. Respect is a two way street though, and the tail is definitely in charge here. The players are telling you it through the press. Don’t get me wrong here, I haven’t liked many of the line combos put out either. It is a coach’s responsibility to get the most out of each player by putting them in positions to succeed, and that hasn’t been the case on this team this season. But clearly the lines now are not the problem. The desire to play a TEAM game is the problem.

    Next step – take a vote among the players and see who they want for coach. He can get paid X amount of money, and if he isn’t successful, then the players that voted for him all fight for 3rd and 4th line spots. Oh wait – can’t do that. Let them remain superheros and go get another coach. Rinse. Repeat. Can we do it more than Edmonton?

    Work ethic comes from inside of people and speaks to the character of those people. Whiners are excuse makers who are not interested in paying a price to get better. Don’t want them on my team. Don’t need them. I want teammates dedicated to working hard for their team.

    Las Vegas did it their first year. It’s the players that play hard. No coach in the world can MAKE a player work hard. They can only punish and try to encourage the player to work harder. Ultimately, it is on the player.

    Fighting with a coach is easier than working hard. Many of us do it every day at work.

    No chance – if I am Robin Lehner – for me to resign here next year. There are teams ready to make cup runs for many years where my services would be RESPECTED by the other players, and they may evcn consider helping me out.

    I don’t think JC is the answer for this group, but I know a lot of the problem is the effort of the players. And boy this group really hates hearing that from a punk coach. But instead of responding, they put their thumbs in their mouths, only to be pulled out when they get their way or a microphone comes around.

    Spoiled rotten millionaires. Welcome to America.

  24. Hawks played “position ” hockey in 1st period… In 2nd they got away from it a little at a time… In the 3rd they ABANDONED IT entirely and ALL chased the puck like IHL players… Thats the only Way you give up 50+ shots a game… That plus TURN OVER Keith,Gus machines, and Cement shoed 350 lbs. Seabrook who can’t skate.
    Blame the Coach… Read Keiths comments about “thinking too much” under collitons system.. JUST PLAY IT & STFU… He is a cancer. But he can’t play hockey… Crowford covered his trash defensive playing for years. ? Go Hawks!

  25. Silent that was my point, good players make the players around them better, good coaches make teams better. As you said the players are still good, but the team isn’t. Yes the star players seem to be disengaged, as i mentioned earlier is it a cause or a sympton, thats where coaches earn their keep.

  26. With Q the team certainly was engaged for a number of years, then with cap issues etc., the roster Bowman fave him was basically undermanned his last couple of seasons, every team that is accustommed to winning suffers a dropoff all around in those circumstances.

  27. I do not believe Toews and Keith are quitters. Just look at their resume. Kane never played defence so you know he is not going to start now. Maybe just maybe the system that JC used in Sweden on a bigger ice surface doesn’t work in the NHL. He never coached in the NHL so you can’t say it worked in the past. That is why Q was a great coach. He knew how to handle the players ( ask Hossa)

  28. Spoiled Rotten 3 Cup Winners. Superhero coach? you mean the guy who coached 3 cups? How dare we respect that record.

    In the history of bad coaches, sometimes its players knowing what’s best. What I can’t stand is a coach pushing an agenda purely from ego. Good bosses know how to make the most of their talent and don’t shove a square peg in a round hole.

    Mike Singletary wanted just guys who played hard. “can’t win with ’em”. He was one of the worst coaches and team knew he was in over his head.

    I don’t condone mutiny, but proven winners deserve a system that works for them as well. NBA is full of coddled players, but at times, they know what they’re talking about. If respect is a two-way road, then for the love of god, why does Colliton like to talk to the media about his guys?

    If you want a bunch of “try hard guys”, good luck with that. Get all the Kampfs you want top to bottom. However, NHL hockey requires skill, and if you watched the game last night, Kane was crucial to the win. For all the Toews bashers, name one other player who would have stood up for Saad in that moment?

  29. If you want to talk about the great defensive genius tat is Joel Quenneville, look at Florida’s record right now. Same number of games as the Hawks and 10 MORE goals against than the Hawks. Also, for most of his tenure he had the core at it’s peak and better talent. For all his faults you can’t compare Colliton to Quenneville when it comes to defensive schemes.

  30. We went from 40 shots, not good enough we tried 50. Now were going for the 60 barrier? Funny.

    I thought Kabalik,w as a better Kahun or same so thats still just as good.

    Yea I really like 40 and 44 and 22. So keep them. Crow prob stays for 2m.

    Yes Defenseive system needs to change, and then when we have a good system thats work, well, for our players and we tweak roster at deadline draft summer, what kind of team do we have. A playoff team maybe a top 8-16 range until young wave gets established, then were higher range then that.

    Thats how good a team we could have, with Defensive system works well like Trotz. Lehner and Trotz are friends right.

  31. Pucklogic, Florida is averaging 30 shots a game, not trying for 30 shots against a period lol. Just imagine if Lehner was overpaid underachieving goaltender like Bobrovsky what the situation with Blackhawks would be right now. Compare apples to apples.

  32. How did Islanders do so well last yr. They had Trotz system, Lehner and enough fast young players. We have 2 of those 3 now or coming. Get Trotz here Lehner. Then Lehner will stay.

  33. Ian, agreed, FLA is good offensively but some posters here were talking about how good the Hawks were defensively under Q as if he were to be still in Chicago somehow they’d give up fewer goals. It could be the system but I’m leaning towards a problem with the talent on the blueline.

  34. To be clear about Coach Q – He was the perfect coach at the perfect time. Savard was probably outside his expertise at that time, and Q stepped in and got respect right away, the players adjusted, and away we went. But the roster made a huge difference too – talent up and down, and more importantly we had VERY hungry young players who were exceptional talents, some willing to take lesser roles on the team to play FOR THE TEAM. I think there were a lot of coaches who could have won 3 cups with what he had to work with, but history says that he did it, so I give him credit. I also feel he made some very selfish moves (yes, about the Q ego) during some of those runs. I liken it to Joe Maddon and the Cubs (despite his over-managing, we won a championship). We don’t need to rehash how he used TT and Vermette in the playoffs. That was a joke, but we still got a cup. Anyone feel we should have won another cup?

    JC had the opposite happen. Q had lost the team, as was discussed endlessly on here. Change was needed. It happened. Players didn’t like it. They pouted, came around and played well, but have decided against this coach. Hey, it’s Bowman’s problem now. He gets paid the big bucks and needs to sort it out. But the play the last two games has been anything but structured as a man-to-man defense (see Carolina for what it really looks like). There is obviously a lot of ad-libbing going on in the defensive zone. Lehner keeps getting asked in interviews, and he keeps saying we are trying to get better and need to get better. Wait until he gets yanked after giving up 4 in the first some time.

    But having the players allow 50 plus shots on goal each game is not a recipe for a Stanley Cup, or likely the playoffs.

    But it IS fun to watch!

  35. Just for some perspective the HDC in that TOR game favoured CHI 12-4 (Natural Stat Trick)

    Being a HC in the NHL is obviously different than being a HC in Europe not only because of the bigger ice surface in Europe but also because the best players, the biggest egos and the biggest personalities are in the NHL

    As a HC it’s your job to manage and communicate with star players (in CHI’s case with several future HOFers)

    I thought it was to JC’s credit that he parked his stubborness and listened to his millionaire players – after 3 Cups maybe they do a few things he doesn’t

    Maybe the act of listening to his stars will earn him some respect when he asks them to listen to him regarding defense – that’s my hope

    Everything with the Hawks right now is a work in progress but the last 3 games do feel like progress (despite 57 SOG against) – it’s not enough yet, the progress has to continue and IMO it’ll have to be down a 2 way street of respect between coach and players

  36. Hey Silent Spot….spoiled rotten millionaires, welcome to America ? Are you shitten me ? What does welcome to American have anything to do with that ? most of the teams milionaires are Canadians, you dumbass. And you want to see spoiled rotten dumbass millionaires, watch European soccer, half of them are tax evaders….so piss off.

  37. As I commented after Pittsburgh game our ability to hold leads has been a chronic problem for some time. That being said, through two periods yesterday the shots were 31-27 in favor of Toronto. We took three penalties in the 3rd and there was extended time with goalie pulled for Toronto which helped exaggerate the shot differential. I’m pretty sure most teams would rather have 2 points giving up 57 shots than no points giving up 15 shots. Not a recipe for success but we did some things right to get the win.

  38. Thanks for the opinion Days. It’s good to know we don’t have any tax evaders in the USA.

    And here I thought if you earned the money in the USA you had to pay taxes to the USA.

    Why was it so much better for Stamkos to stay in Florida than go play for Toronto? Hint – Answer is a 5 letter word beginning with ‘t’ and ending ‘axes’.

    I will admit to being a dumbass. It’s my favorite word I use to describe myself. And I am not kidding!

  39. Seeing Lehner cursing after the forth goal-you can’t blame him after he was hit in the collarbone and the shots and bodies kept coming. Money talks but he seems like a different cat and would probably like a couple of things-a good place for his family and platform to continue to create awareness around mental health issues. Oh yah and the team pulling in the right direction with somewhat less than 50 shots a night.

    This guy is the real thing.

  40. Bobrovsky sv% .884 14 GP
    Lehner sv% .934 10 GP

    Let’s say Bob ends up at .900 and Lehner at .920. What kind of contact do you think Lehner will command, considering Bob’s $10M per ($70/7 yrs) ? If he cannot be re-signed, at least he should fetch a high-quality prospect or pick at the tdl. In fairness to Bowman, this was one hell of a signing. For all this talk about missing Tallon, be glad he is not our GM.

  41. Seabrook skates with cement boots (skate guards) on… Keith thinks “he’s the shits”, as far as skill goes… Gustaffson struggles playing D… Kane has no need to play D…Toews had one too many concussions in his career… Saad is LAZY—Looses puck in off. zone Every time pressured……THE CORE… Wonder what the “Problem” is? Must be the coach… Silent Spot “gets it”… LOL
    Go Hawks ! ??

  42. Bobrovsky at .900 and $10 million per year is not a good negotiating angle. One could point to a lot of goalies with higher save percentages making a lot less. They will have more of an influence on the market value than Bob.

  43. The key is their cap hit is about 11 million for goalies this year. Lehner will get a raise, in the 2 to 3+ million area. The only way it makes sense is when Crawfords’ money is off the cap and they actually gain some space. The two problems (if they can get him) are what would be the term, and how much $ and how good the backup would be.

    No doubt the quality would probably go down-but Crow is 35 in one month and has had significant injuries. Not sure what his future holds.?
    And how does Lehner do playing 60+ games?

  44. Can’t give a goalie big money. It’s the kiss of death. Price, Bob, Henry, …… Zero Cups. 6mil max. Would rather payout 6 to 7mil on two goalies than just 1. Believe 4 to 5 mil with term gets it done. Not comparing them talent wise. Just what could happen and prey it doesn’t, life wise. The Darling situation with Lehner. I believe Lehner is stronger in every aspect.

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