New York Rangers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:00 PM at Air Canada Centre
Where to Watch: MSG 2
Where to Listen: AM 1600
Live In-Game Chat: 6;45 PM on BluehsirtsUnited.com
Coming off a rare loss, the Rangers (27-10-4, 58 pts) return to action tonight on the center stage of Hockey Night in Canada as they open up a tough weekend of back-to-back games with a tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs (22-16-5, 49 pts). The Rangers were shut out 3-0 by Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators Thursday at The Garden, only their tenth loss in regulation this season---the fewest for any team in the NHL. Despite the defeat the Blueshirts have won five of their last six, and 10 of 12, and are still in first place in the Eastern Conference standings. Playing against a team that has bettered its defensive play recently, the Rangers will look to generate more offense tonight than they have in their previous two games when they have scored only one non-shootout goal. The Maple Leafs have won four of their last five, with two of those victories being shutouts over Buffalo and Winnipeg. 27 year-old goaltender Jonas Gustavsson backstopped both of those shutouts, and he has already helped the Leafs defeat the Rangers twice this season. However, Gustavsson and his teammates dropped a 3-2 decision in Buffalo last night.
These two Original Six teams meet for the third of four meetings tonight. The Maple Leafs have gone into Madison Square Garden and won each of the first two encounters so far this season. They first ruined the Rangers' home opener by scoring three goals in the third period en-route to a 4-2 win over the Blueshirts on October 27th. Then on December 5th, the Maple Leafs skated to a 3-0 lead before holding on for a 4-2 victory at The Garden. Last season the Rangers took three of four from Toronto, winning both games played at Air Canada Centre. The Rangers are 218-272-95-6 all time against the Maple Leafs.
"It's always fun to go up there, and it's always a great atmosphere. It's going to be a fun night, playing for the New York Rangers against the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada. That's going to be a new experience for me. These things are all parts of your career that you relish and love playing in."--Brad Richards
By The Numbers
The Rangers are ready to play the seventh of 14 back-to-back sets of games this season when they skate tonight in Toronto and then play in Montreal against the Canadiens tomorrow. The Blueshirts are 5-0-1 in the first game of back-to-backs so far this season, and an identical 5-0-1 in the second game.
Three-time 30-goal scorer Phil Kessel is off to ther best start of his career for the Maple Leafs. He ranks second in the NHL with 24 goals and fifth with 48 points in 43 games played so far this season. Though he is pointless in his last two outings, Kessel had gone four straight games scoring a goal prior.
Share your prediction below on tonight's game with the Maple Leafs.