RANGERS (38-19-2) at MAPLE LEAFS (28-20-11)
7:30 pm (SN)
With just over 20 games left in the regular season, the Atlantic Division is too close to call. Six points separate Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Florida and Boston and while some will get to the postseason, others will get an early start to summer instead.
Washington, Pittsburgh, Columbus and the New York Rangers are all locks for the playoffs, which leaves room for only three, maybe four Atlantic Division teams to enter the playoffs. Now with April fast approaching, no team wants to become the odd-man out, which is why the two points are critical for Toronto tonight.
The Leafs sit third in the Atlantic just five points behind Montreal with a game in hand, but on the flip side, Boston and Florida are both only one point behind Toronto. The Leafs are coming off a character win against Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night, in which Toronto came from behind to tie the game three different times before winning in overtime.
Alexey Marchenko will finally make his debut for Toronto after being claimed off waivers almost three weeks ago. He’ll be replacing Connor Carrick, a fellow right-hand shot who’s out with an upper-body injury.
A player to watch for the Leafs will be Josh Leivo, who has eight points in nine games on the main roster. Leivo looks like he’ll be sticking around for a while, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can continue to produce at the same rate in which he’s been putting up points thus far.
The New York Rangers, on the on the other hand, are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and are one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference right now. With a win against the Leafs, New York can overtake Columbus for third in the Metropolitan Division.
The Leafs and Rangers have split their two head-to-heads so far this year and tonight will be their final encounter of the season.
Projected Line Combinations
Toronto Maple Leafs
Komarov — Kadri — Leivo
van Riemsdyk — Bozak — Brown
Hyman — Matthews — Nylander
Martin — Gauthier — Soshnikov
Gardiner — Marchenko
Hunwick — Polak
New York Rangers
Vesey — Stepan — Nash
Kreider — Zibanejad — Zuccarello
Grabner — Hayes — Miller
Lindberg — Pirri — Fast
McDonagh — Girardi
Staal — Holden
Skjei — Klein