Rangers-Mats Zuccarello: Coming off a two-point outing in Pittsburgh Friday night, Zuccarello enters play against the Maple Leafs as the Rangers leading scorer with 30 points. He has already outdistanced his previous career-high of 23 points set as a rookie in 2010-11, and his goal total of ten is also a career-best, which in addition is tied with Chris Kreider for the team lead. Needless to say Zuccarello is well on his way to blowing past any of his previous offensive numbers and has established himself as a vital meber of the Rangers top six group of forwards. He has 20 points in his last 20 games, including five in his last three---just two of his eight multi-point games this season. It is almost hard to believe that Zuccarello began the season without a point in his first seven games. Since then he has 30 points in 34 games, and has been lauded repeatedly by head coach Alain Vigneault for turning his year around following an early-season scratch in Philadelphia. His feistiness and willingness to get involved physically with much bigger opponents has stood out nearly as much as his offensive production. He looks to continue the roll Saturday against a Maple Leafs team he has notched one goal in four career games against.
Maple Leafs-James van Riemsdyk: The 24 year-old forward had a pretty good New Years Day on Wednesday. Not only did van Riemsdyk score a goal to help the Maple Leafs win the Winter Classic, but afterwards he was named to the United States Mens Olympic Hockey team. The New Jersey native is well on his way to a career year, having scored 15 goals and totaled 30 points in 40 games to date---just shy of his career-best 21 goals and 40 points set as a Philadelphia Flyer in 2010-11. He is carrying a three-game point-scoring streak into Saturday's game with the Rangers, and has four points in his last five contests. Clearly he is well on hs way to forcing the Flyers into regretting trading him prior to last season for defenseman Luke Schenn. A vital cog among the Leafs top six, van Riemsdyk looks to be a keeper for years to come in Toronto.