Maple Leafs' player makes an unexpected comment ahead of tonight's game against Pittsburgh

That's usually not the kind of comment players make right before a game.

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Just a few weeks ago, not many people believed the Pittsburgh Penguins looked like back-to-back Stanley Cup winners. Back at the end of December, some thought they wouldn't even make it to the playoffs, considering how competitive the Metropolitan Division was, and how Pittsburgh was struggling with consistency.

As a matter of fact, we can read in Washington Post's Neil Greenberg's article that "According to Hockey Reference’s season simulator, the Penguins are projected to finish the 2017-18 campaign with 88 points, good for seventh place in the Metropolitan Division, slightly ahead of the last-place Philadelphia Flyers. They are being given a 25 percent chance to make the playoffs, with a majority of that coming in the form of a wild-card spot (17 percent), but that could evaporate if they don’t find a way to improve their play on at least one part of the ice."

It is needless to say both the Pens and the Philadelphia Flyers proved this simulation wrong: Pittsburgh is currently ranked first in the Metro, while Philly is third just two points behind the Washington Capitals.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner may have an explanation of how Pittsburgh managed to come back to the top of the division after a rough start. Some people would say the comment he made is rather unexpected, considering both teams will face off tonight. Some players prefer to say they aren't impressed by the prowess of their opponents:

Leafs' head coach Mike Babcock also reminded everyone that Sidney Crosby is the best player in the NHL, period. Whatever other analysts might say:

I think it is fair to say this seals the deal.

Hawks insider reveals important info about their recent roster move

We reported just an hour ago that the Chicago Blackhawks had recalled 23-year-old forward John Hayden from the Rockford IceHogs today, and that they had used their last non-emergency recall of the season to do so. However, it turns out there is a very precise reason why Chicago needed Hayden for today's game against the Boston Bruins.

According to a breaking news report from Sun TimesMark Lazerus, it looks like it was an emergency recall after all. The journalist reported that 23-year-old winger Vinnie Hinostroza is currently dealing with a family matter, which means he wont suit up this afternoon against Bruce Cassidy's team. He also added that Hayden's going to play with Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz today:

Lazerus also added that Hayden could also be used on the power-play:

Coach Quenneville also confirmed 26-year-old netminder Jean Francois Berube will get the start against Boston:

Hayden was selected in the third round (74th overall) of the 2013 NHL draft by Chicago. He signed a rookie deal with the Hawks right after completing his senior season at Yale University, last year. He played a total of 51 games with the team over two seasons, in which he recorded 15 points. The 6 foot 3, 223-pound winger has had a bit more success with the IceHogs this season, where he amassed 14 points in just 22 games.

It is fair to say Chicago has had a pretty disappointing 2017-18 season. The team has a record of 29 wins, 31 losses and 8 overtime/shootout losses, good for 66 points. The team is currently 13 points out of a playoffs spot, which means they are pretty much out of the race already. On the other hand, Boston has had much more success this year. They are currently second in the Eastern conference because of their 92 points in just 65 games.