LGD: Bringing Broadway Back

Photo Credit: Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Toronto Maple Leafs can overtake the Boston Bruins and jump into the second seed of the Atlantic Division tonight, as long as they defeat the New York Rangers. Said victory would, in theory, give them a 0.604 record. On January 19th.

No need to pinch, you’re not dreaming. But they still need to get those two points, so let’s talk about the game ahead.

The Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff


But at a cost. The Leafs lost Morgan Rielly to a leg injury suffered on Tuesday; he was probably the last player they wanted Frankie to fill in for, besides Jake Gardiner. He’s going to play with Connor Carrick, the least proven defenceman he could possibly slot in with, but it’s still something. It’s a pair with two same-handed shots, which usually means trouble, but it’s still something. Hunwick and Polak are playing on the second pair, but it’s still something (not to mention, they’ve been decent of late).

The Rangers

New York Rangers lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff


Starting Goaltenders

Henrik Lundqvist appears to be the starter for this one, as far as the rangers go. His not-very-Lundqvisty year has continued to transpire in recent weeks; through 32 games, he’s at a career-low 0.902 save percentage. Keep in mind that this is a goalie who hasn’t been below 0.920 since 2009/10.

Frederik Andersen likely starts again for the Leafs. He wasn’t mindblowing, but still good enough for the win against the Sabres on Tuesday, and was stellar against the Rangers last week when he stopped 34 of 36.

What To Look Out For

Obviously, the Rangers are going to be bloodthirsty after losing to the Leafs six days ago at Madison Square Garden. That loss actually started a three-game losing streak for them, which has the gap between the two teams slowly dwindling.  

In each of those losses, New York allowed more goals than the previous game; 4 against Toronto, 5 against, Montreal, and 7 against Dallas, so expect them to be playing extremely strict and motivated in the defensive zone.

The Leafs, on the other hand? The third pair is, for now, the second pair, and they’re going to have to deal with a mobile team; hopefully they can stay above water like they did the last time the two sides played. The other two pairs should be fun to watch from an observational standpoint; Gardiner and Zaitsev is probably the best combo this team can put out right now, and Carrick-Corrado, well, they’ll have chances to prove their long-term worth.

Puck drop for this game is at 7:30. You can catch it on TSN.

  • espo

    Think the big question of the game will end up being whether or not the Leafs D pairings as they are can hold up for the whole game, or do they put Gardiner and Carrick back together mid game?

  • tealeaves

    If anything, Babcock wants to protect Corrado who hasn’t played much nhl hockey this season and is willing to sacrifice the vets who can take screw ups without doing too much damage to their confidence.

    Stats are great and all but sometimes things like confidence and experience need to be accounted for in spreadsheets. Again this is why Babcock is a great coach – he balances raw theoretical analytics with the practical requirements of icing a balanced team.

  • Stan Smith

    Another huge test for the Leafs.

    The Rangers, and Lundgvist are going to be hungry, after losing 3 in a row. The Leafs are without one of their top pairing D, and dressing a player that has a grand total of one NHL start this season. Plus their most criticized defensive pairing are being promoted to second line status.

    There are lots of excuses for the Leafs to lose this one. Can they once again overcome those excuses and get a win?

    • LukeDaDrifter

      When we played the Rangers last week I was surprised how much better the Leafs looked. I was wondering if we had seen the real Rangers.

      As for excuses?……..We don’t need them…. Excuses are part of Montreal’s playbook.