BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 09: Marc Staal #18 and Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers defend against Drew Stafford #21 of the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena on October 9, 2010 in Buffalo, New York. New York won 6-3. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
7PM ET: SNET-O
Early in the season it's hard to get a read on how good a team is or isn't. Take the Leafs: they've outplayed a team, played a tight game and been outplayed yet won all three. Weird things happen in small sample sizes so we can't use this season as a good judge of what's going on just yet.
The Rangers are similar. Rookie Derek Stepan scored a hat trick in his NHL debut in Buffalo to lead the Rangers to a 6-3 victory. In their next game the Rangers led the Islanders 4-3 with under eight minutes to play and lost 6-4 in regulation.
The Rangers are a tough team to predict on any night. If Gaborik scores a pair and Lundqvist shuts the door they can be completely unbeatable. Last year they missed the playoffs by a single point and this summer they added Alex Frolov to their lineup. That makes them a bubble team just like the Leafs. Tonight is their home opener so they'll come out flying and the Leafs are going to need to be ready.Per the NY Post Chris Drury is returning to the Rangers lineup tonight and will be centering Gaborik and Frolov. That moves rookie Stepan down with Sean Avery and Ruslan Fedotenko. I haven't seen confirmation but expect Henrik Lundqvist to start. He plays 70+ a season and this is his home opener.
For the Leafs Jean-Sebastien Giguere gets the start and the lines should be unchanged. Brett Lebda has returned from injury and heads to the press box as a reminder to our top six D that there are replacements waiting in the wings. The Kessel line had a quiet night in Pittsburgh: tonight would be a great time for them to erupt.