New York Rangers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:00 PM at Air Canada Centre
Where To Watch: MSG 2
Where To Listen: 1130-AM, Bloomberg Radio
Live In-Game Chat: 6:45 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
After finishing off a season-high seven-game homestand with a 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres last night, the Rangers (46-21-7, 99 pts) open up a three game road trip tonight with a Hockey Night in Canada tilt against the Maple Leafs (33-34-8, 74 pts) at Air Canada Centre. Last night's defeat dropped the Rangers to 4-3-0 on that homestand, with tonight's contest their first on the road in 15 days. Though they are winless (0-3-1) in their last four road games, the Rangers are still 20-11-5 away from Madison Square Garden in the 2011-12 season. The Rangers enter play holding on to first place in the Eastern Conference, just one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who also play this evening. Including tonight the Rangers have eight games left on their schedule---five on the road and three at home---while the Penguins have nine games remaining. The Blueshirts will be forced to play without winger Mats Zuccarello for the forseeable future. Zuccarello, who had two goals and an assist in seven games since being recalled from the Connecticut Whale, suffered a fractured left wrist while blocking a shot in last night's game against Buffalo in the first period. He will be sidelined indefinitely, and likely will be replace din the lineup tonight by veteran Ruslan Fedotenko, who had been a healthy scratch in the previous two games. Defenseman Steve Eminger remains out injured for the Rangers. The Maple Leafs are coming of fof a 4-3 shootout victory in New Jersey last night, and are 3-2-0 in their last five games after posting an 0-4-1 record the five games prior. Originally projected as a contender when the season started, the Maple Leafs currently are eight points out of a playoff spot in the East, with only seven games remaining on their schedule.
This is the fourth and final meeting this season between the Rangers and Maple Leafs. The Blueshirts were beaten twice on home ice by Toronto before riding a Martin Biron 20-save shutout to a 3-0 victory on January 14th up at Air Canada Centre. In two starts over two seasons as a Ranger against the Maple Leafs, Biron is 2-0-0 and has allowed only one goal. Derek Stepan leads the Blueshirts with three points (1-2-3) in three games against Toronto this season.
"We're going to have to get it together quickly, in a short time---less than day---we play a pretty good team that's playing some pretty good hockey. We need to be better, and we can't play (like we did against Buffalo) against any team in this league and expect to win."-Brian Boyle
By The Numbers
Marian Gaborik has played 14 career games against the Maple Leafs and totaled 14 points (7-7-14), aided greatly by his five-point outing against the Leafs on January 19, 2011 at The Garden when he scored four goals and added an assist.
Toronto's Phil Kessel currently ranks third in the NHL with 36 goals and fourth with 76 points this season. His goal total matches his previous career-high set back in 2008-09 when he played for the Bruins, while Kessel already has established a new career-high in points this season.
Will the Rangers start thier road trip with a win this evening? Share your predictions below.