RANGERS (28-16-1) at MAPLE LEAFS (21-13-8)
7:30 pm (TSN4)
Perhaps the most motivated hockey player on the planet is likely to take to the ice tonight at the Air Canada Center when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the New York Rangers.
Before we get to that, let’s remember seven nights ago when the Maple Leafs handily won a 4-2 decision at Madison Square Gardens. The Rangers iced quite a different roster last Friday night. The injury bug has not been kind to the Rangers so far in 2017 with Jesper Fast the latest regular to renew his parking pass at the infirmary.
The Rangers have dropped three in a row and are 5-5-0 over their past ten. However, it is not all gloom for the Rangers as they hold a seven point cushion for the first wildcard playoff spot.
Offensively the Rangers are solid, although, goals against and their penalty killing is below average. The Leafs are also an offensive threat. However, their penalty kill is top five league wide. This is where the difference in tonight’s game could be. It wouldn’t be the first time that special teams won a game.
To date the Leafs have been fortunate with injuries, barring those being paid “not to play”.
Morgan Rielly is out day to day with a lower body injury. While injuries are never a good thing there are a few positive spin-offs that can happen due to his absence.
- This offers management to a chance to evaluate their defensive depth.
- The team gets to rally with their top defender out of the lineup.
- Babcock is forced to move defensive bodies into different pairings. More evaluating.
- After so much attention being paid to Corrado all season long, here is his chance to prove he belongs.
- Rielly’s injury is not expected to keep him out of action for very long.
Another facet brewing is trade talk. As of today the Leafs are holding a playoff spot. Media and fans are wondering what Leafs brass will do as the trade deadline approaches. For the first time in many years the talk is legitimate. Speculation is building mostly around Nylander but Bozak and JvR also are in the mix.
On a team like the Leafs, a bit of diversity is important for their growth and development. Every good team goes through it. You may say this is making a mountain out of a mole hill and you are probably right but it is still a part of growing together as a hopeful championship team.
What do you think Leafs Nation?
Discuss among yourselves.
Projected Line Combinations
Toronto Maple Leafs
Komarov — Kadri — Nylander
Hyman — Matthews — Brown
van Riemsdyk — Bozak — Marner
Martin — Gauthier — Soshnikov
Gardiner — Zaitsev
Corrado — Carrick
Hunwick — Polak
New York Rangers
Kreider — Stepan — Zuccarello
Buchnevich — Zibanejad — Nash
Grabner — Hayes — Miller
Vesey — Lindberg — Pirri
McDonagh — Girardi
Holden — Klein
Skjei — Clendening
Frank Corrado — Morning Skate — 01/19/2017