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Rangers take on Babcock and struggling Maple Leafs at MSG

Bobby Bevilacqua

Rangers celebrate a win 10-22

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

It’s about darn time the Rangers played again.

Following a long four day break, the Rangers (6-2-2) will look to shake off any rust and grab a home win when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs (1-5-2) in the second game of a three game homestand.

After being the most active team in the NHL, New York had a rare four day break this week, while Vigneault kept his troops sharp with some conditioning drills and extended practices. A lot of the practices were geared towards improving certain aspects of the Rangers play.

This is the first of three games between these two Original Six teams, and the first of two contests in the next 17 days. The Rangers are 7-3-1 in their last 11 games against Toronto, but they did lost two of the three games against them last year. Expect a close game, because six of the last eight games between these teams have been decided by one goal.

The Maple Leafs are clearly a rebuilding team, and bringing on Mike Babcock, former coach of the Detroit Red Wings, has not helped them be more competitive. They’ve struggled in all areas, and are tied with the Blue Jackets and the Ducks for least amount of points in the NHL.

Through eight games, the Maple Leafs have scored just 19 goals while giving up 26. Their special teams, both penalty kill (71.9%) and power play (8.7), rank third and fourth worst in the NHL respectively.

Toronto has always given their backup goalie, James Reimer, more starts than the average backup gets, but it will be Jonathan Bernier between the pipes. Bernier is 0-4-1 with a 3.02 GAA and a .902 save percentage. He last played on October 24, allowing five goals on 27 shots to the Montreal Canadiens.

Babcock will get two of his injured players back in the lineup, with center Tyler Bozak and defenseman Jake Gardiner rejoin the lineup. Captain Dion Phaneuf leads the team in scoring (6 A), while James van Riemsdyk and Leo Komarov both have four goals and an assist, while Nazem Kadri has a goal and four assists.

Matt Hunwick was a crucial part of the Rangers last season when the defensive injuries piled up, and he is now playing in Toronto. Hunwick has started all eight games this season, with no points and an even plus/minus rating. He wears an “A” and plays over 20 minutes a night, so expect to see him a lot.

New York has not lost in regulation since October 15, picking up eight of the 10 potential points during their last five games, posting a 3-0-2 record. They’ve allowed just six goals in those five games, and scored four goals in all three of their wins.

The Rangers will start Henrik Lundqvist, who is making his ninth start in 11 games to begin the season. Henrik hasn’t played in nearly a week, when he stopped 46 of the 48 shots he faced in a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s off to a marvelous start to the season, posting a 4-2-2 record alongside a 1.98 GAA and a .941 save percentage.

henrik lundqvist pad save 10-22

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

While some of the top-six forwards have struggled, Mats Zuccarello has not. He’s off to the hottest start of his career, currently sitting in second in both goals scored (4) and points (2). AV reunited the Nash-Brassard-Zuccarello line, and having them back together could spark everyone on the line. Brassard has been very good lately, and he’s always played well with Zuccs.

The Rangers power play was terrible to start the season, but it’s been getting better as of late. Still sitting at just a 16% conversion rate (4-25), they’ve scored on three of their last nine chances on the man advantage (33.3%), and they also haven’t given up a power play goal during the last 17 chances. Special teams will play a major role in this game, and New York needs to capitalize on a bad Toronto penalty kill.

keith yandle shooting 10-22

Look for Keith Yandle to do some damage against a rough Toronto PK unit. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Rangers and the Maple Leafs will face off at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINES

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Jesper Fast

JT Miller- Kevin Hayes- Oscar Lindberg

Jarret Stoll-Dominic Moore-Emerson Etem

Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Klein

Keith Yandle-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on October 30, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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