Preview: Leafs, Rangers Headed Down Different Paths

For the second time in just under a week, the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers will line up opposite each other when the puck drops on Thursday night. The Leafs took the first meeting in New York by a 4-2 score thanks to a strong offensive effort by Mitch Marner and two power play goals by James van Riemsdyk and Connor Carrick.

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers, NHL, Hockey
Henrik Lundqvist has struggled over the last few games for the New York Rangers. (Photo: Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Leafs are having a good month of January with a 5-1-1 record. They’re 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and are currently riding a three game winning streak. The Rangers, on the other hand, have lost three in a row and have a .500 record over their last 10.

While Henrik Lundqvist made the start against the Leafs on January 13, giving up four goals to the Leafs may cause the Rangers to go a different route in their rematch on Thursday. Look for Magnus Hellberg to get the call for the Rangers in Toronto.

Hellberg has only played 19 minutes so far this season – facing four shots – but remains unbeaten over that span. He’s made three career NHL appearances with a 3.55 goals against average, so the young Leafs squad should be quite the test for the 25-year-old net minder.

New York Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs

Air Canada Centre – 7:30 p.m. EST

Broadcast channels – TSN4 and MSG

2016-17 Season Series: 
January 13 – Maple Leafs 4 – Rangers 2

New York Rangers – 28-16-1 – 57 Points

Road Record: 15-7-0

Hot Players: Michael Grabner, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes

Key Injuries: Jesper Fast, Marc Staal and Antti Raanta

Projected Lines:


Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Pavel Buchnevich-Mika Zibanejad-Rick Nash

Michael Grabner-Kevin Hayes-J.T. Miller

Jimmy Vesey-Oscar Lindberg-Brandon Pirri


Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Nick Holden-Kevin Klein

Brady Skjei-Adam Clendening


Magnus Hellberg

Toronto Maple Leafs – 21-13-8 – 50 Points

Home Record: 11-7-2

Hot Players: Connor Brown, James van Riemsdyk and Mitch Marner

Key Injuries: Morgan Rielly, Martin Marincin, Ben Smith and Joffrey Lupul

Projected Lines:


James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Mitch Marner

Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-William Nylander

Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-Connor Brown

Matt Martin-Frederik Gauthier-Nikita Soshnikov


Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev

Matt Hunwick-Roman Polak

Connor Carrick-Frank Corrado


Frederik Andersen

Game Notes

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Maple Leafs have eight players with 20 points or more so far this season including four rookies – Matthews (38), Marner (36), Nylander (29) and Brown (21).

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL
Auston Matthews leads the Leafs in goals and points as well as all NHL rookies in points this season. (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]So far, Matthews has recorded 38 points in 42 games in his rookie season. The young Leafs forward is on pace for 42 goals and 74 points in his first NHL season. On top of that, he’s set to fire 289 shots on net by season’s end.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]Rangers forward Grabner is one of the biggest surprises of the season so far. In 44 games for New York he’s notched 19 goals and 27 points. One more goal for the former Leaf and he’ll tie his second highest goal total in his career.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Lundqvist has a 13-9-5 record in 27 career games against the Maple Leafs. His numbers are respectable – a 2.82 goals against average and .900 save percentage. However, in his last start against Toronto earlier in January, he gave up four goals on 27 shots and hasn’t been at the top of his game over the last little while. That could be why Hellberg is expected to make his first start against the Leafs.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap]If numbers say anything, the Leafs have a good chance of walking away with this two points in this one. In 606 match-ups between these two clubs, the Leafs hold a 283-220-95-8 record outscoring the Rangers 1,919 to 1,751 over that span.

In their second game of the season against each other, the Leafs will look to continue their hot streak while the Rangers are looking to get back on track as they haven’t played consistently over their past few games. With a win, the Leafs could jump into second in the Atlantic while the Rangers are looking to chase down the Penguins for a divisional playoff spot.