The Blueshirts conclude a five-game homestand as they playhost to the Toronto Maple Leafs. (7:00 P.M. ET, NBCSN).
The Rangers homestand has not gone exactly as they had hope.They’ve won just once in four games despite playing well according to headcoach David Quinn.
“I think we’ve played well during the homestand and it’s frustrating to not be rewarded for that, but you’ve just got to keep moving forward and be dialed in about the Toronto Maple Leafs,” said Quinn.
In the three losses during the homestand, the Blueshirts have lost each game by one goal (not counting the two empty net goals by Carolina).
Friday night, the Rangers paid tribute to the 94’ StanleyCup Champion team prior to versing the Carolina Hurricanes. But following theceremony, they found themselves shutout by Petr Mrazek and the Hurricanes. Witha win, the Hurricanes snapped a 16-game losing streak at Madison Square Garden.Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves in a losing effort.
“I think we all feltreally inspired and excited to play,” Lundqvist said. “I was really excited toplay the game but we just couldn’t get the win.”
“Hanky made some bigsaves, and it was the kind of game where you knew that first one was going tobe important,” said assistant captain Marc Staal. We just weren’t able to getit.”
Quinn’s men will have to put that game in the rearview mirroras they host the tough Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are tied for 4thin the NHL with 71 points. Last night, the Leafs defeated the MontrealCanadiens 4-3 in overtime. The Rangers will get to play the Leafs in the secondgame of a back-to-back and will see backup goalie Garret Sparks.
The Leafs have one of the most talent offensive cores in theentire league and it is showing why this season. They average over 3.5 goals agame which is 4th in the league. Leading the way are Auston Matthews,John Tavares and Mitch Marner. All of which are over a point-per-game pace. Ondefense Morgan Rielly is also on a point-per-game pace. The Leafs also acquireddefenseman Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings for a first-round pick.
“Obviously they’re a very high-skilled team – theyscore goals pretty much whenever they want, it seems,” said Ryan Strome.
For the Rangers, Alexandar Georgiev will get the start on his 23rd birthday. Georgiev is coming off a 4-3 win against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. Georgiev will face the Leafs for the second time this season. In the first meeting, Georgiev allowed four goals on 35 shots.
In addition, for the third time since the all-star break,Quinn will dress seven defenders as Vinni Lettieri makes way for Neal Pionk.
“Getting more comfortable with it for sure,”Quinn said. “Again, you’ve just got to put your best lineup out thereregardless of positions. I prefer not to do it, but I am getting morecomfortable with it, and I think our guys are getting more comfortable with ittoo.
Smith – Shattenkirk – Pionk