For the third time this season (and this month) the New York Rangers will clash with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In their first two meetings (4-3 OT win Leafs / 2-1 win Rangers), each have conquered the other on the road. Toronto will look to avoid recent history repeating by earning the victory in this match-up at home, and someone will be sporting pink skates.
Toronto has scored just 7 goals in their last 5 games, and the result have been a string of losses. With change in mind for tonight’s game, the Leafs have called up Christian Hanson from the Marlies to do his worst (physically) against the Rangers.
“They want me to play a little more tenacious, a little more physical role,” said Hanson. “I’m taking faceoffs, playing centre now, I’ve got to bear down and win 50 to 55 per cent of those.”
Snake-bit scoring forward Kris Versteeg will also be back in the line-up tonight. With two bodies inserted for tonight’s game, it’s expected John Mitchell and Mike Zigomanis will have the night off.
There’s a secondary battle underway tonight for the Leafs. In the fight against cancer, Colton Orr will be sporting a pair of pink skates, and for the main fighter on the Leafs roster, it’s quite fitting.
“I had a teammate and friend, he was 18 and he passed away from synovial sarcoma,” Orr said Saturday morning. “Just being involved in any kind of cancer awareness is a privilege and an honour for me to help out any way I can.”
Giguere will be back in action tonight after Gustavsson got the start against Boston. He has posted a 4-1-1 record this year (including the overtime victory against the Rangers) with a 0.908 save percentage and a 2.30 goals against average.
The Rangers are currently on a two-game losing streak and coming off a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes last night. Gaborik, Prospal and Drury will still be on the sidelines for tonight’s game. Tough guy Derek Boogaard is also questionable with a finger infection (note: this injury was not caused by Jeff Finger). Henrik Lundqvist will be between the pipes for the Rangers. He has a 0.909 save percentage and a 3.15 goals against average this season.
Who’s Hot? Toronto:
Phil Kessel (RW) 9 pts in last 9 GP
Who’s Hot? New York:
Ryan Callahan (RW) 6 pts in last 3 GP
Brandon Dubinsky (C/LW) 4 pts in last 3 GP
Henrik Lundqvist (G) 2-1-0, 2.35, .932 in last 3 GPI
I will be liveblogging this game tonight, along with George Prax who will be covering the Habs/Panthers game. So be sure to tune in and give us your opinion on the game and discussion. Habs-bashing is optional.
Micheal A. Aldred