Rangers-Maple Leafs Preview
A scoring outburst was a big reason the Toronto Maple Leafs were
the biggest surprise in the NHL just two weeks ago. Now, their
offensive play is contributing to their funk.
The Maple Leafs attempt to re-establish themselves offensively
and win for the second time in six games when they meet the New
York Rangers on Saturday night for third time this season.
Toronto (5-3-1) opened 2010-11 with a four-game winning streak
and scored 16 goals. The stretch was capped with a 4-3 victory at
New York (4-4-1) on Oct. 15, giving the club promise after
finishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference last season.
The Maple Leafs, however, followed that impressive start by
going 1-3-1, including a 2-1 defeat to the Rangers at home Oct.
Toronto has been limited to seven goals in its last five games,
a sluggish stretch that continued Thursday with a 2-0 loss at
“I don’t think guys are pressing,” defenseman and captain Dion
Phaneuf said. “We had opportunities, but we ran into a hot goalie.
We didn’t have enough shots, so we were passing the puck too much.
The main thing is; you want to score goals, you’ve gotta shoot the
Phil Kessel can’t be blamed for Toronto’s recent offensive
shortcomings. The right wing leads the team with seven goals and
nine points with three goals coming in the last five games. He was
held without a point for just the third time this season against
the Bruins – his former club – despite a team-high six shots.
Kessel went without a point in the last meeting with the Rangers
after getting two goals and one assist in the first matchup.
Perhaps re-inserting Jean-Sebastien Giguere in net will provide
a spark for the Leafs. He’s 4-1-1 with a 2.30 goals-against
average, including a 21-save performance at New York two weeks
Jonas Gustavsson, 1-2-0 with a 2.36 GAA, made 30 saves in the
loss to the Rangers on Oct. 21.
Giguere, though, has won two of his last three games against the
Rangers behind a 1.97 GAA.
New York may be relieved to get back on the road after
concluding a 1-2-0 homestand with a 4-3 loss to Carolina on Friday.
The Rangers are 3-1-0 away from Madison Square Garden.
“We have to keep on fighting here and you can’t break apart,”
coach John Tortorella said. “We need to stay consistent and I think
things will bounce our way, home or away.”
Things are going pretty well for Ryan Callahan, who leads the
Rangers with 10 points and is looking to match a career-high
six-game points streak from March 12-22, 2009. The right wing got
closer to that mark by scoring a goal and assisting on Brandon
Dubinsky’s team-leading fifth of the season Friday.
Callahan has accumulated three goals and four assists during his
current run. He had an assist at Toronto on Oct. 21 after getting
only one goal in the previous four visits.