Game Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs v.s. New York Rangers
Well, let's set the tone, boys.
The Toronto Maple Leafs play their first of back-to-back games Monday night against the New York Rangers. We've only played the Rangers once this season, a 5-2 loss for the buds back in January.
James Reimer was in net for the early-season loss, but let’s not forget he’s coming off an amazing game against the New Jersey Devils – one he arguably stole for the Leafs.
The Rangers have struggled this season – considering the season they had last year – and desperately need to take the back-to-back games to stay in the top eight.
Judging from their recent turnaround – a 3-0-1 run, with Brad Richards leading the way as he found his game – the Leafs may have their hands full.
Richards had a goal and four assists in that span, playing with newly-acquired rugged winger Ryane Clowe, a Trade Deadline acquisition.
The Leafs need top keep a close eye on these two players – while also not forgetting about Rick Nash. Nash leads the Rangers in goals, and loves playing the Leafs – he’s got six assists in his last five games against the buds.
At least Marian Gaborik is gone. He had four points against the Leafs in that 5-2 in January.
The Leafs’ Trade Deadline acquisition, Ryan O’Byrne, will suit up for the first time, a chance to show he can help shut down such players.
I’m just hoping captain Dion Phaneuf leads the way, smashing said players in the corners and cross-checking them away from the net – helping Reimer see the pucks coming at him.
The Leafs are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 46 points. The Rangers aren’t too far behind in seventh place with 42 points.
If the Leafs lose both games – they head to New York on Wednesday – the Rangers would be tied with them. That’s scary.
A win at home – where the Leafs have the lost their last three games to the Rangers – would be a good start to the crucial mini-series.
It looks like Lupul will be sitting out again, and I’m glad he is...more on that in another post: the last thing I want is for the Leafs’ top player, likely suffering from concussion symptoms, to be hit, severely concussed, and miss the playoffs.