Leafs and Rangers Preview
The Rangers are riding a 4 game win streak, the Leafs are not. The Rangers have a goal differential of +8 in their last 4 games, the Leafs have a goal differential of -6 in their last 3 games. The Rangers are 5th in the league on the PK (88%), while the Leafs are last (53.8%). The Rangers are 4th in the league for goals against per game (2.00). The Leafs are tied in last place with Florida at 4.25.
Other noteworthy stats on the Leafs are as follows:
When the Leafs score first, they lose. They share this quality with Anaheim, Florida, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Minnesota and the Islanders.
When the Leafs let in the first goal, they also lose. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, Carolina and Los Angeles also share this unique stat as well as 7 other clubs.
Toronto is 13th in the league for average shots on net per game (31.0) and have yet to find a win.
Only one other team in the league has yet to find a win this season – the Islanders.
The Leafs also have a points percentage of 0.125, while the Islanders have a points percentage og 0.500 as they have lost all three of their games this season in overtime – better known as “games with hope”.
The Rangers, on the other hand, have a points percentage of 0.800, tied for second in the league, right behind the Sabres (0.833) who are 2-0-1 this season.
In other words, tonight marks a game between the last placed team in the league against the first placed team in the league. Oddly, tonight’s team points in the standings could prove to be the final score: NYR 8 TOR 1.
Toskala gets the start tonight, Stalberg is likely to not receive clearance for tonight’s game, but could be in the lineup tomorrow night against the Avalanche. Jeff Finger stays in for Garnet Exelby.
It is also expected that Luke Schenn will continue to play alongside Ian White. The pairing has become the Leafs most reliable duo since the start of the year. They are collectively a +4. Luke Schenn had been a minus player on the year alongside Beauchemin. Together, in their first three games, Schenn and Beauchemin were a collective -7. Once the coaching staff decided to move Schenn alongside White, Schenn became an Even player in just one game.
Despite a year of poor production from the Leafs team, Ian White has certainly been a standout and pleasant surprise. It’s understandable how Brian Burke believes he is worth more than the 2nd round pick teams have offered for him. At this rate, White is the only untradeable asset the Leafs have. A bright spot in a very shady corner.
It will be interesting to see how the Leafs come out this evening with Gaborik finding the hot stick, and Toskala going 3-0-1 against the Rangers last season. Though all signs point to another Leafs loss – 5 losses to start a year will be a team record – the Leafs will eventually come alive this season, and tonight could very well be the beginning.
Micheal A. Aldred