When: Monday, December 5, 7:00 p.m.
Opponent: vs. Toronto (14-10-2)
UPDATE: Jonas Gustavsson will start for Toronto. (1:12 p.m.)
UPDATE: The Rangers will dress the same lineup tonight and Henrik Lundqvist will be in goal. Mike Rupp skated with the club wearing a non-contact jersey this morning. (11:48 a.m.)
EARLIER: Entering the season the New York Rangers were expected to
make a jump in the standings thanks in large part to the signing of Brad
Richards. But no one saw the Toronto
Maple Leafs coming.
Sure enough, the Rangers are winners of five straight games
and 12 of their last 14 and sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto has dropped its two games in a row, both at the
hands of the Boston Bruins, but was solidly in control of the Northeast
Division until the Bruins went on an incredible 13-0-1 run and took over first
Sophomore goalie James Reimer returned to Toronto’s lineup
on Saturday after missing six weeks with a concussion and if he returns to form
the Leafs may continue to press Boston for the duration of the season.
Toronto’s high-powered offense led by points leader Phil
Kessel has been its strength all year, but the Leafs have thrived despite
ranking 27th in goals against per game.
Reimer allowed four goals on 30 shots in his return, but the
Leafs were so confident in the 23-year-old after just 37 games last season that
they rewarded him with a three-year, $5.4 million contract this summer.
New York has faced Toronto once previously this season, when
the Leafs spoiled the Rangers’ home-opener on October 27th.
Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto scored for the Blueshirts,
but Toronto put up three goals in the third period to seal a 4-2 road victory.
Since that game the Rangers have lost just once on home ice
- in the team’s very next tilt against Ottawa - and three times overall.
New York has found its stride and is beginning to be accepted
as a member of the NHL’s elite.
To that end, the Blueshirts are now expected to win,
especially on home ice. The Rangers have
racked up seven straight victories at home and now have a 7-1-1 mark at the
newly renovated Madison Square Garden.
Failure to maintain a distinct home-ice advantage has
plagued this club in recent years, but the 2011-2012 season seems like the
beginning of a new era on Broadway and dominating play at home has been part of
Indeed, since losing their first two games at MSG the
Rangers have outscored their opponents 25-10 at home.
That’s been a big reason why the team has climbed up to
ninth in the league in goals per game and still maintains a spot in the top
three in goals against.
Toronto is out to prove that it is no flash in the pan and
ironically enough, a road victory over the surging Blueshirts would open the
eyes of many.
But that’s not the Rangers’ concern. New York is simply in search of its sixth
straight victory, business as usual.
here for our full 2011-2012 Season Archive >
Follow us on Twitter (@NYRBlueBulletin and @kevinbaumer) and on Facebook.