Rangers-Maple Leafs Preview
The TV cameras, bitter cold and enormous outdoor crowd are all gone, so the Toronto Maple Leafs would like to get back into their rhythm.
Jonathan Bernier appears to have found his own.
After helping the Maple Leafs to a win in the Winter Classic, Bernier may find himself in net for a sixth straight game Saturday night in another meeting with the New York Rangers.
Toronto (21-16-5) beat Detroit 3-2 in a shootout in the Winter Classic at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Wednesday, while also overcoming a game-time temperature of 13 degrees and 10-plus mph wind in front of 105,591 fans - the largest crowd to watch a hockey game.
The hoopla leading up to the yearly outdoor game included being part of HBO's all-access "24/7" series, and the Maple Leafs seem relieved the cameras are gone.
"It was fun to be a part of, but I think guys are kind of glad that it's over, too," left wing Frazer McLaren said. "As nice as the cameramen guys were, I think everyone is kind of glad to not have them in our face every morning now, and just kind of breathe."
Bernier may be one of those players after starring in the Winter Classic with 41 saves and two more stops in the shootout.
"Obviously, we bring it a bit lower now and get back in the groove," he said. "The second half is starting now, so we really gotta play our best hockey all the way down to the end."
He's certainly doing his part, compiling a 1.80 goals-against average during a 3-0-2 stretch. That may be good enough to earn him another nod ahead of James Reimer, who is 2-3-1 with a 3.79 GAA over his last eight games and has been pulled from two of the past four.
Reimer is 1-1-1 with a 2.95 GAA against the Rangers (20-20-2), while Bernier has a 1.85 GAA in two shootout losses. That includes a 2-1 loss at New York on Dec. 23, during which he made 42 saves.
The Leafs have dropped five of the past six with the Rangers, but they're expected to have Tim Gleason available for the first time. They acquired him from Carolina on Wednesday in exchange for fellow defenseman John-Michael Liles, and coach Randy Carlyle expects him to solidify the defense.
"I think we're asking Tim Gleason to play the way he's accustomed to playing; being a strong, physical defensive defenseman," Carlyle said.
The Rangers are trying to conclude this five-game road trip with a winning record after giving up the first four goals in a 5-2 defeat at Pittsburgh on Friday.
They had won four of their previous five.
"Any time you give a team like this that's so structured the lead that we gave up, it makes it real hard," coach Alain Vigneault said.
Vigneault may opt to turn to Cam Talbot after Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves against the Penguins. He's 3-5-2 with a 3.50 GAA over his last 10 games, while Talbot has been a major surprise with an 8-3-0 record and 1.72 GAA and two shutouts on the season.
Talbot had 25 saves and two more in the shootout against Toronto last month.
New York could also use some increased production from Rich Nash, who hails from nearby Brampton, Ontario. The left wing was held without a point Friday, and he's managed just seven in 15 games while never getting more than one in any of them.
He has three goals and three assists in his last three meetings with the Leafs, scoring twice in a 4-3 loss at Toronto on April 8.