The Blueshirts conclude a five-game homestand as they play host 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 head coach 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’ Stanley Cup Champion team prior to versing the Carolina Hurricanes. But following the ceremony, they found themselves shutout by Petr Mrazek and the Hurricanes. With a 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 felt really inspired and excited to play,” Lundqvist said. “I was really excited to play the game but we just couldn’t get the win.”
“Hanky made some big saves, and it was the kind of game where you knew that first one was going to be important,” said assistant captain Marc Staal. We just weren’t able to get it.”
Quinn’s men will have to put that game in the rearview mirror as they host the tough Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are tied for 4th in the NHL with 71 points. Last night, the Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in overtime. The Rangers will get to play the Leafs in the second game of a back-to-back and will see backup goalie Garret Sparks.
The Leafs have one of the most talent offensive cores in the entire league and it is showing why this season. They average over 3.5 goals a game 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. On defense Morgan Rielly is also on a point-per-game pace. The Leafs also acquired defenseman Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings for a first-round pick.
“Obviously they’re a very high-skilled team – they score 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 there regardless of positions. I prefer not to do it, but I am getting more comfortable with it, and I think our guys are getting more comfortable with it too.
Smith – Shattenkirk – Pionk