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.

21.

Toronto has been limited to seven goals in its last five games,

a sluggish stretch that continued Thursday with a 2-0 loss at

Boston.

“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

puck.”

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

ago.

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.