After falling to the Avalanche in their home-opener, the Rangers will look to rebound against the up-and-coming Toronto Maple Leafs who steam-rolled the Winnipeg Jets in their season-opener, 7-2.
The Rangers’ struggled to break through Semyon Varlamov despite heavy pressure and outstanding puck movement in the offensive zone. Just a tad more puck luck for the Blue Shirts and their opener could have gone very differently. Mika Zibanejad put on an offensive show with two goals and eight shots last game and he’ll be a player to watch out for again against the Leafs.
Filip Chytil will also be looking to get his footing under him after making a few early defensive gaffes that led to him only logging 7 minutes of ice time against the Avs. Some Rangers’ fans critiqued coach Alain Vigneault’s decision to give the young Ranger sheltered minutes arguing he should be more forgiving of Chytil’s minor struggles.
Both the Rangers and Leafs were the two wildcard teams from the Metropolitan division last season, and both have retooled their teams and are looking for an even greater jump in the standings. This can serve as a rubric game for both clubs to determine where they are at early in the season.
Players to watch
Mats Zuccarello was without a shot during the Avalanche game, but did not go unnoticed as he picked up an assist on Zibanejad’s second goal and exhibited solid puck movement on the powerplay. Zuccarello has a tendency to stand out in contests against Toronto with 15 points in his last eight games against the Leafs.
Zucc is being moved up onto the second line this game to play with Rick Nash and Filip Chytil. Vigneault will be hoping the veteran nature of both Nash and Zuccarello could open up Chytil to be more creative and free with the puck and not overly concerned about his defensive struggles as he adjusts to the NHL game style.
Patrick Marleau is giving Toronto not only an added veteran presence in a team filled with young, talented rookies, but he is also giving them a reliable and solid offensive player. He scored twice in his debut with the team and is looked at as a key player in determining just how far the Leafs can progress from their success last season.
Marleau is playing wing on the third line for Toronto with Nazeem Kadri and Leo Komarov. He is a prime player to create defensive mismatches for the Rangers.
Kreider – Zibanejad – Buchnevich
Nash – Chytil – Zuccarello
Grabner – Hayes – Miller
Vesey – Desharnais – Carey
McDonagh – Shattenkirk
Skjei – Smith
Staal – DeAngelo