Pregame Analysis

Rangers Host Leafs in Rubber Match

               The Blueshirts are set to host the Toronto Maple Leafs with the season series on the line (7:30 P.M. ET, MSG).

Rangers Ranks Leafs
25-22-4 Record 28-18-7
8th GF/PG 3rd
23rd GA/PG 25th  
7th PP% 5th
23rd PK% 25th

               The Toronto Maple Leafs won the first meeting at Madison Square Garden on December 20th 6-3. The Rangers responded with a 5-4 victory in Toronto just eight days later. Alex Georgiev and Frederik Andersen were the goalies for both matchups, but neither will feature in Wednesday night’s game. Andersen was injured just two days ago against the Florida Panthers and did not make the trip to Manhattan. Backup netminder, Michael Hutchinson will get the start for Toronto.

               Auston Matthews registered his 37th goal of the season to put him third in the league behind Alexander Ovechkin’s 40 and David Pastrnak’s 38.

For the Blueshirts, rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin will make his first career start against the Leafs. In the past four meetings between both teams, Alex Georgiev had stopped 177 Maple Leaf shots.

               The Blueshirts 5-vs-5 lines could be very different then what they have been the past couple of months. Ryan Strome has had a great season series against the Leafs leading the Rangers with five points in two games. But Strome will find himself on a different line then he has become accustomed too. Strome will find himself likely on the third line – separating the Ontario native from longtime linemate Artemi Panarin.

               Head coach David Quinn was not impressed with Pavel Buchnevich’s game against the Dallas Stars on Monday, which could lead to a demotion for the Russian winger. Phillip Di Giuseppe made his Rangers debut and impressed Quinn.

               “I saw a lot of energy. I thought he did a good job, I thought he played well,” Quinn said of Di Giuseppe. “A lot of times you bring a guy up from the American League and they’re in an offensive role and they play key minutes with the top players, and then they get to the National Hockey League and we all have a tendency to put them on the fourth line. So, you want to let a guy play a little bit to his strengths.”

               Di Giuseppe was playing in Chris Kreider’s vacant spot who was absent due to an upper-body injury. Kreider is listed as a game-time decision with a feeling that he will be available.

               “He’s definitely getting better and better,” Quinn said of Kreider. “We’ll see how it feels.”

               The Blueshirts hope that they can continue to see success from there power-play which has been red hot. The Rangers have scored seven power-play goals on their past 13 chances and are operating at 40.5% since December 27th which is top of league. Toronto have just the 25th rank penalty kill entering tonight’s game and have allowed 40 goals in their past ten games. Without their starting goalie, the Leafs could find themselves on the ropes if they find themselves in penalty trouble.

Projected Lineup

Kreider-Zibanejad-Kakko

Panarin-Chytil-Fast

Di Giuseppe-Strome-Buchnevich

Lemieux-McKegg-Howden

Lindgren-Trouba

Staal-DeAngelo

Skjei-Fox

Shesterkin

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