Fresh from a successful trip to Sweden that saw the Toronto Maple Leafs win both games, the team will play the Chicago Blackhawks today in an afternoon game. The Maple Leafs are led by William Nylander, whose impact in Sweden extended beyond the ice. Fans in Stockholm lined up for blocks to get his autograph. In short, the young Swede seemed to have rock star status in his home country.

The Maple Leafs look to build on their recent success against the Blackhawks on Black Friday. Given that Chicago beat them 4-1 earlier in the season, you can’t believe the Maple Leafs are thinking this game will be easy. However, they carry the energy and confidence they’ve gained from their successful Global Series campaign into this afternoon’s game.

William Nylander, Maple Leafs

Coach Sheldon Keefe notes the team’s return with increased energy and a renewed sense of its own power as a team. Toronto is looking to avenge its previous loss to the Blackhawks in Toronto and continue its winning streak.

In this post, I’ll take a quick look at some of the changes that are occurring for the team.

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Quick Hit One: Conor Timmins Looks to Be Returning to the Lineup

Conor Timmins seems set to make a return to the ice. He’s a player I quite like to watch. Something about the 25-year-old defenseman seems to put him into the team’s offence. He showed promise during the preseason before his injury, and he has the potential to be a significant asset for the Maple Leafs. Timmins earned a contract last season after an impressive 14 points in 25 games. He also scored his first NHL career goal.

As Timmins once again takes his place on the Maple Leafs blue line, I’ll be keen to see if he can contribute again to the secondary scoring. He also would likely be used as the quarterback on the second-unit power play, now that John Klingberg was placed on long-term-injury reserve (LTIR). Given his reasonable contract, whatever he brings is added value.

Quick Hit Two: Nylander Is Coming Off a Spectacular Week

William Nylander’s on-ice performance during the Global Series was spectacular. With five points, including two goals and three assists, Nylander showed his exceptional skills against both the Detroit Red Wings and the Minnesota Wild.

His highlight-reel goal in overtime against the Wild led the Maple Leafs to their fourth straight victory. It also marked Nylander’s 12th goal of the season. The right wing’s franchise-record, season-opening point streak now stands at an impressive 17 games. Can he make it 18 games in a row with a point today against the Blackhawks?

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Quick Hit Three: Matthews’ Pursuit of Goal-Scoring Glory

Auston Matthews and the first line, with partners Matthews Knies and Mitch Marner, aim to build on their recent bounce-back game against the Wild. After having a string of underwhelming performances, the top line looks poised to continue its resurgence in Chicago.

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs

It’s hard to take your eyes off Matthews when he’s on the ice. He’s looking once again to lead the NHL in goals this season and is on a solid start toward that goal. The Maple Leafs certainly want to play solid defence, and Matthews helps in that respect as well. But, the bottom line is that they have the players to be an offensive powerhouse. And, that’s fun to watch as a fan.

Matthews’ pursuit of goal-scoring glory adds an extra layer of excitement to the matchup with the Blackhawks and their amazing rookie Connor Bedard.

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