Dec 23, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) scores a goal against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) during the shoot out at Madison Square Garden. The New York Rangers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

New York Rangers vs Toronto Maple Leafs: Breakout

The New York Rangers host the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Madison Square Garden.

The puck is set to drop at 7:00 pm.

The Rangers look to bounce back after two straight losses, and bounce back into second place of a very tight metropolitan division playoff hunt. Currently, the Rangers are 33-26-3 with 69 points and sitting in third place in the division. Newly acquired Rangers forward Martin St. Louis is set to make his debut for the team tonight at the Garden after a blockbuster trade that saw former captain Ryan Callahan head to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The forward currently has 61 points in 62 games, which makes him the leading scorer on the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist is back in net tonight, Lundqvist currently has a 2.56 GAA and a .914 save percentage and is coming off a tough loss to the Boston Bruins where he allowed in six goals which he described as “painful”. Forward Mats Zuccarello has been considered “day-to-day” with his hand injury and can be reintroduced to the lineup as soon as Friday. Forward Derek Stepan is on a three game points streak with four assists in the those three games, also stepping up for the first line is Chris Kreider who has two points in as many games and with Rick Nash on a line with them the Rangers first line has reemerged to be dangerous. Toronto is a fast team with a strong offense and the Rangers will rely heavily on their defense, particularly Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi to handle the threat. J.T. Miller has been sent back down to the Hartford Wolfpack and while nothing official has been confirmed I have to assume that means Derek Dorsett will return to the Rangers lineup tonight to fill his place.

Jan 4, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers forward Carl Hagelin (62) celebrates a goal by New York Rangers forward Brad Richards (19) against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. New York defeated Toronto 7-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a 32-23-8 record with 72 points and are currently in a wild card playoff position, and fourth in the Atlantic Division. Coming into MSG the Maple Leafs look to avoid a season series sweep from the Rangers. Jonathan Bernier will be starting for Toronto tonight, and coming into this game has a 2.63 GAA and a .924 save percentage. The Rangers have a lot on their plate as they face Phil Kessel who is second in the NHL in points with 69, and second in scoring with 33 goals at this point in the season. However, not to be overlooked are James Van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri, who have 52 points and 42 points respectively. The Leafs will try to use their offensive prowess to overwhelm the Rangers defense in hope to score more than one goal this game against the blueshirts.

In order for the Rangers to come away with a victory this game they will have to rely on coach Alain Vigneault’s system to lead them past the Leafs. They will have to lean on Lundqvist and the defense to hold the Maple Leafs offense off and capitalize on any chances they get. In the first two meetings between these teams, the Rangers won 7-1 at the Air Canada Centre, and 2-1 in a shootout at Madison Square Garden. Tune into MSG plus tonight to watch the Rangers and St. Louis’s debut!

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Tags: Henrik Lundqvist Maple Leafs Martin St. Louis New York Rangers

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