Rangers at Leafs Game Preview: A return to normalcy

David Clarkson
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: Benoit Pouliot #67 of the New York Rangers checks David Clarkson #71 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at Madison Square Garden on December 23, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

With the HBO 24/7 sideshow and the 2014 Winter Classic spectacle now behind them, the Toronto Maple Leafs look to continue a three-game winning streak versus the New York Rangers.

Jonathan Bernier will start his fifth game in a row for the first time in his career, and for the first time for either Leaf goaltender this season. He turned aside 39 of 40 shots against the Rangers in a shootout loss prior to the Christmas break. This has been a convincing stretch from Bernier, one that will be tough to recover from as far as Reimer is concerned.

Randy Carlyle for his part is still at least paying lip service to open competition between the goaltenders:

New acquisition Tim Gleason will not play tonight, which makes sense on a couple of levels. Carlyle is right to stick by the group that has pieced together three straight wins, with Paul Ranger playing some of his better games of the season. Gleason also needs some practice time to gain familiarity with the Carlyle swarm defensive system in particular, which can put the defenceman in some uncomfortable situations in the transition once possession is recovered.

In the last meeting between the two teams, a wide open first period yielded nothing due to good goaltending from Cam Talbot and Jonathan Bernier before the Rangers played the entire second period in the Leaf end, with Bernier holding the game goalless until the third period. The Rangers took the lead off the stick of JT Miller after a defensive zone breakdown by the Leafs before Nazem Kadri poked the puck over the line from underneath Talbot’s pad with a few minutes remaining.

The Leafs have won three in a row since the loss to the Rangers, two in shootout (which now represents a third of their total wins with 7 SO victories), while the Rangers have gone 2-2-0 versus the Capitals (L), Lightning (W), Florida (W) and Pittsburgh (L).

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • Mortagleus

    Welcome GDT

  • Jmessih

    https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Leafs&src=hash‘ Carlyle: “Gleason will not play tonight unless there’s a late injury or a late sickness, illness, car accident, whatever.” Retweeted by https://twitter.com/jonasTSN1050

  • Leafs rule

    We need to win tonight and Dallas please kic the crap out of those wings ,and the turds playing the habs fuc ,who cares

  • Jmessih

    I thought this was funny lol

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Need the killer instinct tonight, Rangers 5 points in arrears of the Leafs. Need a win in regulation to dash their hopes.

  • Jmessih

    TheCanucksnaphook Jmessih Exactly lol

  • Jmessih

    ingy56 Exactly it, this is when a playoff team starts to push away. Lets be that team!!
    Also can we fucking close out a win please???? It’s embarrassing, if we are leading in the third, please win the game in regulation, that is all I ask.

  • wendelsway1

    Leafs rule I’m just hoping for no three point games.

  • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

    Jmessih ingy56 This franchise has had trouble doing that for as long as I can remember.

  • Leafs rule

    wendelsway1Leafs rule yea Carolina playing the ilses ,can the isles do it and win ?