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Game Preview: New York Rangers @ Toronto Maple Leafs [UPDATED]

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Another valuable 2 points up for grabs in the race for a playoff spot

NHL: New York Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

New York Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs: Game 60

Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON

Broadcast/Streaming: Sportsnet Ontario, MSG, NHL.tv

Opponent SBNation Site: Blue Shirt Banter

I was going to lead off by saying that this is a big game, but that’s unnecessary. They’re all big now, with a crowded Eastern Conference playoff race. In particular, the Atlantic Division is a total mess. The Leafs have a tenuous hold on a playoff spot before Wednesday’s games, but could see themselves fall out of that position when they wake up on Thursday. New York is comfortably ensconced in the first Wildcard spot, but will be looking to catch up to the three Metro teams ahead of them. Then again, they may prefer to face the winner of the less top heavy Atlantic than deal with one of the powerhouses of Columbus, Pittsburgh, or Washington. Suffice to say, a lot is still up in the air right now.

As for the hockey... New York is a fast, skilled team with a questionable defence. In some ways, they’re the grown up version of the Leafs. Coming off a shootout loss to the Habs, they’ll be looking to jumpstart their offense against one of the league’s worst at keeping the puck out of their net. The Leafs defense has been terrible recently, though in their recent win against Winnipeg, their stellar set of rookies was able to power them past it. In particular, Frederik Andersen has struggled of late, posting a save percentage below .900 since the start of 2017. He needs to turn it around if the Leafs have any hope of making the postseason. You can’t win 5-4 games forever.

UPDATES:

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Connor Brown

Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Josh Leivo

Matt Martin - Ben Smith Frederik Gauthier - Nikita Soshnikov

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner - Alexei Marchenko

Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

OTHER TEAM

Forward Lines

Jimmy Vesey - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Mats Zuccarello

Michael Grabner - Kevin Hayes - JT Miller

Pavel Buchnevich Brandon Pirri - Oscar Lindberg - Jesper Fast

Defence Pairings

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Nick Holden

Brady Skjei - Kevin Klein

Goaltenders

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Opposing lines are brought to you by Daily Faceoff.

For the Leafs, Mitch Marner continues to miss time with his upper body injury, but should be back for Saturday. Alexei Marchenko makes his Leafs debut with Connor Carrick sitting out due to an injury sustained in the first period of Tuesday’s game against the Jets.

Former Leaf Michael Grabner has lit up the world this year, scoring 26 goals. Incredibly, he only has 10 assists, making his scoring incredibly tilted towards goal production. Nonetheless, he’s provided excellent depth scoring for a team with an already fearsome top six that boasts excellent players across the board. On the fourth line, Pavel Buchnevich is a name that’s been on the lips of Rangers fans - he’s an electric player with a lot of confidence, and the skill to back it up. That’s something many Leafs rookies have too, and deservedly so. They’ll need to keep up the great play for the Leafs to come away with two vital points.

BUDS

ALL

DAY