Game Day: Game #3, Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New York Rangers (7 p.m., City TV)

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 10: Rick Nash #61 of the New York Rangers positions himself in front of the net against James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden on April 10, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

Funny how much two games can change.

The context of James Reimer’s first start of 2014-15 is such that he could make the goaltending battle a battle again if he comes out with a big effort tonight in New York. With an effort from his teammates comparable to last night’s, however, he won’t stand much of a chance.

It’s time for the Maple Leafs’ best players to play like their best players. Two Tyler Bozak goals aside, the top line has been nothing short of horrendous to the point of borderline embarrassment; at one point last night, they were hemmed in their own end by the Penguins’ 4th line.

Three players who started big new contracts on Wednesday – Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and Jake Gardiner – all have to be way better, to put it simply, and it has to start tonight.

With the atmosphere already getting a little toxic at the ACC last night – showers of boos throughout, a jersey thrown on the ice – getting out on the road is probably not the worst thing in the world for the Leafs at the moment. It’s been close to the worst start imaginable for this team after the way it ended last year. The good news is that it’s early enough that a couple of good games can reverse the tide just as easily.

Expect some combination of Frattin, Ashton and Franson to factor back into the lineup for the Leafs. Daniel Winnik played a good game next to Kadri and Lupul on line two — maybe the Leafs’ only halfway-decent line last night — but Brandon Kozun down on line four with Peter Holland and Richard Panik yielded several shifts in the Leaf end.

It doesn’t seem that pairing off Robidas-Phaneuf and Gardiner-Rielly is really getting the most out of any of those players based on the first two games, so whether Carlyle and Horachek opt to alter the dynamics of their pairings remains to be seen.

And could Carlyle be so bold as to switch up the Leafs’ snowed-under top line? It seems doubtful this early, but they’ve really played a very poor last 15 games or so if we date it back to last season.

With Derek Stepan still out for the Rangers, the good news is that the Maple Leafs are up against one of few teams in the League that look as weak as they do at the center position.

The bad news is that the Rangers (1-1-0) opted to start Cam Talbot in last night’s loss versus the Blue Jackets and will therefore start Henrik Lundqvist versus the Leafs tonight. Rick Nash, meanwhile, is off to a hot start with three goals and four points in two games. The Leafs have had good luck shutting Nash down in recent meetings, keeping him off the scoresheet in four consecutive.

Leafs Lines

Peter Horachek Game Day Interview

Maple Leafs vs. Rangers

Goals Against/Game4.503.50
Shots Against/Game36.524.5
Even Strength CF%41.62%46.91%
Team SV%89.83%83.72
Team SH%5.26%11.36%
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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-13 Maple Leafs Annual magazines. You can contact him at [email protected]


  1. Well at least we’re in good position for a 2nd or first draft pick this season. If they are not going to make the playoffs, at least preserve that position and try to get maybe 2 more picks through trades. They say it’s a good draft class to chose from this year. Build a dynasty Shanny, I the patience for that. I don’t want a repeat of the usual crap we have to put up with, knowing we’re not getting anywhere.