Game Day Thread: Leafs at Rangers, 7pm (Sportsnet)
The undefeated Toronto Maple Leafs (3-0)Â takeÂ a tour downÂ Broadway this eveningÂ en route toÂ faceÂ off against the New York Rangers (1-1) at historic Madison Square Gardens.Â
Coming off a narrow victory over theÂ much-heralded Pittsburgh Penguins, the Maple Leafs will look to keep the momentum going against a Rangers team that has had no difficultly keeping the lamp lit … at both ends of the ice.
The Maple Leafs and Rangers played each other onÂ fourÂ occasions last season, with the Rangers winning three of the four in convincing fashion. When all was said and done, the RangersÂ outscored the Leafs 18-7Â in the four game set.
It isÂ difficult toÂ look too closelyÂ at statistics onlyÂ aÂ coupleÂ games in, as the season isÂ not nearly toÂ a point at whichÂ one canÂ judge a team off its numerical production.Â That said,Â thereÂ areÂ some early trends which are worthy of attention:
The Rangers have had no difficulty putting the puck in the net, scoring 10 goals in their first 2 games (5 GF/Gm avg), on 61 shots (16.4Â SH%)
However, the Rangers have struggled defensively and in goal, allowing 9 goals against in their first two gamesÂ (4.50 GA/Gm) onÂ 68 shots (34/gm) for anÂ .868Â SV%.
Correction: the Rangers have allowed an empty netter, which raises their sv% to .881.
The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, are rolling along at a brisk 4 GF/Gm to 2 GA/Gm pace, boasting a 15.8 SH% andÂ .915 SV%.
Scoring firstÂ — and subsequently playing withÂ a leadÂ –Â has been an early key for both teams. The Rangers scored first in their victory overÂ the Sabres,Â andÂ found themselves trailing earlyÂ in their loss to the Islanders. The Leafs have scored first in each game they have played, winning all three.Â
Players to Watch
In one ofÂ theÂ early surprise performances of the season, Rangers’ rookie Derek Stepan stepped out of nowhere to record a hat trick in his first game (vs Buffalo). Although held off the scoreboard in the Rangers’ next match (vs NYI), any player with a hat trick under his belt certainlyÂ bears monitoring.
Brandon Dubinsky is off to a hot start for the Rangers, withÂ 3 goals andÂ 1Â assistÂ in 2 games, as is Artem Anisimov (1 goal,Â 2 assists).Â Marion Gaborik (2 assists) has yet to score his first goal of the season, but when healthy — as he is currently — he remains one of the top threats in the league and must be accounted for at all times.
Although Henrik Lundqvist hasn’t had the sort of start many had envisioned, a mere two games in is no cause for panic. However, he will need better defensive support if he is to find his rhythm.
Speaking of the Rangers’Â blueline woes, the Leafs’ top line of Kris Versteeg, Tyler Bozak, and Phil Kessel should have a muchÂ stronger gameÂ against a skilled, but not particularly physical, Rangers defensive unit.Â
WhileÂ few wouldÂ expect Leafs’ wingerÂ Clarke MacArthur to keep up his torrid pace (4 goals, 1Â assistÂ in 3 games),Â the Rangers’ early defensive troublesÂ will provide himÂ an excellentÂ chance to extend his scoring streak to four games.
Luke Schenn has beenÂ an effective force,Â leading all Maple Leafs’ defenders with a +3 rating and 10 hits. His pair of assists have put him in an earlyÂ tie for the points lead amongÂ Toronto blueliners.
Chris Drury returns to the Rangers’ lineup tonight after missing the opening two games with a broken finger,Â while Vaclav Prospal remains out with a knee injury. Erik ChristensenÂ will be a game-time decision after leavingÂ Monday’sÂ gameÂ with an apparent leg injury.Â
Maple Leafs’ enforcer Colton Orr will return after leaving the game against Pittsburgh early following a fight with Deryk Engelland. Brett LebdaÂ has recovered from injury and isÂ ready to make his Leafs’Â debut, but will have to wait as head coach Ron Wilson remains hesitant to tinker with a lineupÂ that has yet to lose a game.
Maple Leafs’Â Lineup
ThereÂ appears to beÂ little impetus to make any sort ofÂ change to what has been a winning formula thus far. J-S GiguereÂ is expected to getÂ the start in net, his third of the season.
(lineup viaÂ Jonas Siegel)
- 809 comments
- Collapse All
@ Leafswillwincupsoon: Its very hard to unerstand how important this 4 straight wins are to start though. It only took 88 PTS last year to make the playoffs in the east, and with everyone predicting the east to be even weaker, you can only imagine 88 PTS will do it again. So 8 down only 80 to go. Remember when after 8 games the % chance of us making them last year were under 1 or something stupid like that? should be the same the other way around wouldnt you think?Have to agree that all this talk about only 4 games is crap. Last time I looked that the games count and we get to keep the point. We are 7 points ahead of where we were after 4 games last year. We have made up half of the points we missed the play-offs by last year. This all gravey.
@ lonsmos2: If we can win monday and go 5-0 I cant imagine the excuses that will be flying around lolexactly, although last night it was great to hear some of the announcers giving us some love for a change but like some of us on here that can turn pretty quick to hate lol
Some good info about Mac didnt know for instance I didnt know he was a setup man in lower ranks… http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/35721-Fantasy-Pool-Look-The-OReilly-Factor.html
@ lonsmos2: If we can win monday and go 5-0 I cant imagine the excuses that will be flying around lol
What can Brown do for you wrote:
@ flappypaddle: Nope, that was my first post ever lol Long time reader though. my source was: http://www.nhl.com/ice/teamstats.htm#?navid=nav-sts-teamsnice, stick around my friend!
@ Leafswillwincupsoon: Its very hard to unerstand how important this 4 straight wins are to start though. It only took 88 PTS last year to make the playoffs in the east, and with everyone predicting the east to be even weaker, you can only imagine 88 PTS will do it again. So 8 down only 80 to go. Remember when after 8 games the % chance of us making them last year were under 1 or something stupid like that? should be the same the other way around wouldnt you think?yep, and the great start just increases the confidence inside the team and the team buying into a system they all can see is working.
@ flappypaddle: Nope, that was my first post ever lol Long time reader though. my source was: http://www.nhl.com/ice/teamstats.htm#?navid=nav-sts-teams
@ Leafswillwincupsoon: Its very hard to unerstand how important this 4 straight wins are to start though. It only took 88 PTS last year to make the playoffs in the east, and with everyone predicting the east to be even weaker, you can only imagine 88 PTS will do it again. So 8 down only 80 to go. Remember when after 8 games the % chance of us making them last year were under 1 or something stupid like that? should be the same the other way around wouldnt you think? :D
Did anyone relize that last nights game winner for Kessel was also his 100th career goal?????? Thats just how we roll!
tsn.ca standings Rank Team GP W L OT PTS GF GA Home Away Last 10 Streak 1 Toronto 4 4 0 0 8 16 9 2-0-0 2-0-0 4-0-0 Won 4 2 Tampa Bay 3 3 0 0 6 12 8 1-0-0 2-0-0 3-0-0 Won 3 3 Philadelphia 4 2 1 1 5 10 9 1-1-0 1-0-1 2-1-1 Lost 1 4 Washington 4 3 1 0 6 14 9 3-0-0 0-1-0 3-1-0 Won 3 5 Montreal 4 2 1 1 5 10 10 0-0-1 2-1-0 2-1-1 Won 1 6 Carolina 3 2 1 0 4 8 7 1-0-0 1-1-0 2-1-0 Lost 1 7 Atlanta 4 2 2 0 4 13 14 1-0-0 1-2-0 2-2-0 Won 1 8 NY Islanders 4 1 1 2 4 13 14 1-0-1 0-1-1 1-1-2 9 Pittsburgh 5 2 3 0 4 13 13 1-3-0 1-0-0 2-3-0 Won 1 10 NY Rangers 3 1 1 1 3 13 13 0-0-1 1-1-0 1-1-1 11 Ottawa 4 1 2 1 3 7 12 1-1-0 0-1-1 1-2-1 Won 1 12 Buffalo 5 1 3 1 3 9 14 0-3-1 1-0-0 1-3-1 Lost 1 13 New Jersey 5 1 3 1 3 9 17 0-2-1 1-1-0 1-3-1 Lost 1 14 Boston 2 1 1 0 2 5 5 0-1-0 1-0-0 1-1-0 Won 1 15 Florida 3 1 2 0 2 6 5 0-0-0 1-2-0 1-2-0 Won 1 . .BOOO YAAAA !!!!Only 6 points out of last place. yes they are playing awesome right now, but lets not get carried away with posting the standings after 4 games.
The Leafs are averaging only 23 shots against per game. St.Louis is the only team doing better averaging 22, but they’ve played less games. Looks like our defense is living up to expectations! Anaheim is averaging 43 per game lol….no wonder they keep losing. Oh and to answer someone’s question from earlier pk is 93.3%, pp is 15%.
WTF is this bullshit with everyone saying we have a “easy schdule”. Tsn better shut up because the rated the 4 teams we played the be 5-6-7-8th in the east. So if we can beat them how is that easy?
@ 2 Minutes for Looking so Guru: And also smash face on somebody !! Wonder if I should Bowmans.com a few wagers this evening on these other games??
@ Jordan: Absolutely. I am expecting to score short handed almost everytime he is out there. He just looks like he could go at any time. This keeps their D from getting comfortable on our blueline and it all helps when killing penalties. Where does our PK rank right now? I cant find it.
Nothing is wrong with Versteeg. He does everything out there. Hes our most used forward on the ice after the 4 games, plays PK and PP, and is huge part of the winning
@ Jordan: Shove it Jordan….this weekend is a let-down because the Leafs arent playing tonite. Makes me cranky (crankier than normal anyways) that we have to watch the shitty Sens/Habs play. Well hopefully its a goonfest and that will cheer me up. GO LEAFS !!
What a great weekend this will be. I am so happy. You have to like our chances to go 5-0 as well, but who knows. This is usually the time where a team under estimates the other team like the Islanders. I hope we stomp them to be honest
B Leaf wrote:
I think with Versteeg there are a couple factors. Because of the cup win he did very little this summer by his own word. This was probably a good move considering the length of the season. However after the initial buzz of coming back in preseason, he has now hit a bit of a fitness wall. Or he could be nursing an injury. Anyway I have no doubt he will bounce back.Nah, i think he’s just over-whelmed with Toronto’s diversity of honeys at the moment and he simply needs to work through them. They can really wear a guy down until he finds his groove.
Anyone watch slow-mo replays of MacArthur’s goal? It’s really funny if you watch it from the board angle. The guy slid for quite a ways :P
@ B Leaf: 1st – don’t waste your time reading Cox or Simmons. There ARE good writers out there that cover the Leafs. Check out mapleleafshotstove.com. . 2nd - I sort of agree with you on Phaneuf, but whenever we get running around in our end I see him standing still waiving his stick too much, letting other Leafs persue the puck. - This is where he looks to be trying to shed his old habits by not over-committing or getting sucked out of position following the puck to leave guys behind him. I like that he’s trying to work it out but he looks lazy sometimes doing it. - I’d like to see him move his feet in order to get a better jump on loose pucks and to close the distance faster on the guy he should be covering. - Finishing checks along the boards and keeping good body position (instead of trying to wipe a guy out and losing body position that will open up ice for the forecheckers) is something he can improve on too when we get hemmed in. - If the team starts failing he’ll need to be a little better or else he’ll be one of the targets of media criticism, otherwise he can continue to grow as a player as I hope he does
I think with Versteeg there are a couple factors. Because of the cup win he did very little this summer by his own word. This was probably a good move considering the length of the season. However after the initial buzz of coming back in preseason, he has now hit a bit of a fitness wall. Or he could be nursing an injury. Anyway I have no doubt he will bounce back.
This suck’s that it’s only the 2nd Saturday of the year and I don’t get to watch a Leaf’s game. WTF! Stupid schedule maker’s. At least we get the Marlies game on Sunday. Kadri has been moved to the wing, which is where I think he should be. For now anyway’s.
Don’t underestimate what we don’t see. The influence in the room and in practice. The attitude shift he has brought to this team has been enormous.
@ dlb: Fair assessment. I see a guy who makes other teams skate around with their heads up. A guy who other teams dont really want to get down and block his shots (he does miss a lot too) A guy who oozes confidence and its permeating the fabric of this team. and a guy who bangs a pretty hot chick…… forget the last one, the rest are valid.