The Rangers, 38-19-2, after a tough loss to the Montreal Canadiens stand at 4th place in the Metro and first in the East Wildcard spot and will be visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, February 23rd. The Home Maple Leafs stand uncomfortably 3rd in the Atlantic division at 67 points (28-20-11). The Florida Panthers are right on their tails with one game in hand and standing at 66 points.
The Rangers are 4th in the league in Goal Differential at a plus 43, the best predictor of success, led by their 198 goals. Toronto on the other hand stands at just +9 in goal differential hurt mainly by their goal prevention.
Henrik Lundqvist: 8GP in February with a 1.97 GAA and .940 save %
J.T. Miller: GP in February with 10 points (2g-8a)
Miller plays on the dynamic third line with Kevin Hayes and Michael Grabner. The speed of these three will be integral when dealing with the young Leafs.
Auston Matthews: Who else but the wonder-boy. He has totaled 13 pts in 11 February games (5-8) and leading the team in goals (28) and pts (52) on the year.
What to watch for?
Speed Speed and Defensive Breakdowns
Both teams play with speed and the underlying factor will be who can both take advantage that on the breakout and on the forecheck. The young leafs have really impressed this year but they are still inexperienced and prone to the simple mistake.
The Rangers love playing with speed but get stuck in their own zone and make a boneheaded defensive play more often then a team with Stanley Cup hopes would like. Look for the Hayes-Miller-Grabner line to take advantage of the lack of depth on the Leafs.