MAPLE LEAFS (5-8-4) at RANGERS (13-2-2)
7:00pm – MSG (NHLN, TVA Sports, SN, MSG)
I knew writing today’s Game Day Thread would be a difficult task. With the Leafs taking 2 points from a convincing 4-2 win in Saturday night’s tilt against the Vancouver Canucks this thread seems to be a bit more challenging.
The Rangers sit 1st overall after their shoot-out win over the Ottawa Senators coupled with Montreal’s 6-1 embarrassing loss to the challenged Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. Coming into tonight’s contest they have won it’s 8 previous games and outscored it’s opponents 29-10 during that time. Henrik Lundqvist sports a shiny 1.69 GAA . . . nothing new to report there. He is having another solid season and is the corner stone of this franchise.
Sources say Antii Ranta will be starting Sunday nights contest as Alain Vigneault is aware that Lundquvist has struggled against the Leafs.
The one kink in the Ranger armour is it’s power play. Ranked 19th in the league overall they will want to avoid the penalty box as the Leafs are capable of scoring with the man advantage. Make no mistake. The 2015/2016 edition of the Rangers is good…very good.
Toronto is not doing itself any favours during this “season of pain”. With the exception of two games, the Buds have been competitive. The terrible start seems to be behind them. With a modest three game win streak (against 3 solid teams) and points in six of the past seven games this supposed ragtag group of players are playing some very impressive hockey.
A few reasons for this…
The Babcock way has taken hold. This was very apparent on Saturday night where the Leafs not only held their own in all three zones but dominated Vancouver for much of the game. There were multiple two pass plays out of the defensive zone, Toronto was able to force many turnovers in the neutral zone and finally a very strong fore-check with every man knowing where to be and what their job was. It truly was a well oiled machine Saturday night.
The leafs are getting scoring from guys that are supposed to be scoring. After a slow start and 4th line duty (coach’s message) Lupul is doing his part. The key to Lupul has always been to stay healthy. Without a doubt the skill is there but you can’t use them from the infirmary. So far so good this season. It is simple, if he stays healthy he will put points up on the board. Van Reimsdyke, Rielly, Winnick an Kadri are greatly contributing to the current success. One burning question – when is Kadri finally going to get his second of the year? Discuss among yourselves.
James Reimer – enough said. Actually we would be remiss if we did not point out that Reims has been stellar. After Bacock’s publicly challenging both puck stoppers to step up and take the number one job, Reimer has made a solid case. His sv% has improved from a dismal .880’s to a respectable .925%. There is no other way to put it but say theat Reimer has stepped up. Still with Bernier coming off injury, you wonder if Babcock gives the nod to him on Sunday night to see if he can rise to the standard the Reimer has set. Another strong factor in Bernier’s favour has got to be this is a back to back game weekend and Reimer had played three times in 4 nights. Babcock may go with the hot hand or decide to rest Reimer and give Bernier a chance. As of press time it was not apparent who starts tonight.
The Leafs are also slowly climbing the standings. A win tonight may place them around 23rd in the league standings. This is why it was difficult to write today’s thread. I have already written about how close the Leafs really were to producing points in the standings. Now they are doing it. The whole idea of this year and next was to finish poorly, stockpile picks and prospects. If the trend continues, Leaf brass may be holding emergency meetings on how to stop this recent surge.
It is hard to say which direction this team goes tonight. The Rangers are due for a bad game and the Leafs are playing well enough to maybe steal two points from Madison Square Gardens. That would scare the hell out of me and start worrying about how the rebuild is really going.
Toronto Maple Leafs
JVR – Kadri – Komarov
Matthias – Bozak – Parenteau
Winnik – Spaling – Lupul
Grabner – Froese – Holland
Gardiner – Phaneuf
Hunwick – Rielly
Harrington – Polak
New York Rangers
Nash – Brassard – Zuccarello
Kreider – Stepan – Miller
Lindberg – Hayes – Stalberg
Moore – Stoll – Fast
McDonaugh – Girardi
Staal – Klien
Yandle – McIlrath
Today in Leafs History….
Today in Leafs history brought to you by …… @DoctorRobert
- 1918 – Former Leafs defenseman Bobby Copp was born in Port Elgin, New Brunswick.
- 1938 – Leafs re-obtain winger Norm Mann from the New York Rangers for $4,000.
- 1967 – Former NHL all-star J.P. Parise plays his first and only game as a Maple Leaf. Parise picked up an assist in a 4-2 win over the Bruins. He was later traded to the Minnesota North Stars where he flourished for years!
- 1975 – Defenseman Yannick Tremblay was born in Point-aux-Trembles, Quebec. The Leafs lost Tremblay to the Atlanta Thrashers in the 1999 Expansion Draft.
- 1983 – Leafs bring back former defenseman Dave Hutchison by signing him to a one year contract. Hutchison’s first stint with the club took place between 1978-1980.
- 1986 – Leafs shutout the Wings 6-0 in Toronto. It was a scrappy affair as both teams combined for 300 penalty minutes. The Leafs set a team record on this night by collecting 154 penalty minutes. Brad Smith etched his name into the Leafs history books by picking up 57 penalty minutes all by himself!
- 2001 – McCauley, Mogilny and Sundin score the Leaf goals in a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. This marked back to back 3-2 road victories over teams located in Florida.