Toronto Maple Leafs @ New York Rangers
07:00 PM at Madison Square Garden
Watch on: MSG, TSN4
The Leafs last game was yesterday. If you've forgotten how that ended up, the recap is here:
Their record is now 14-6-5.
The New York Rangers last played on December 10, where they won 4-1 over the LA Kings. Their record is 19-6-1 and they are the top team in the Eastern Conference by regulation wins.
So you're tired of hearing about regulation wins and how the Leafs have very few. Tough. It matters, and by this point in the season it's a measure people who can't or don't want to figure out more robust ways of analyzing teams can readily access. The Rangers are a very strong team.
A lot of that strength is coming by limiting goals against. They have 70 in 26 games, which is seventh in the NHL. Is that just goaltending? Sort of. Igor Shesterkin has not been as unbeatable as he has sometimes been, but he's still a top 20 goalies, for those with at least 10 starts. But Jonathan Quick is having a Vezina season so far. He has been better than the Boston goalies, better than the Vegas goalies, and better than everyone except Charlie Lindgren.
Yes, that Jonathan Quick.
The Rangers are right in the mediocre range by Corsi or Expected Goals, no better or worse than the Leafs have been. They are exactly 17th at both Expected Goals for and against by rate. However, their power play is pretty much as dominating as the Panthers' is, and unlike that team, they actually score on the PP at their expected amount. Their Save % shorthanded is nearly as bad as the Leafs.
What does that add up to? They are a very average team that wins it on the power play and with their goalies. They've scored fewer goals at five-on-five than both the Leafs and the Islanders.
via Daily Faceoff projected with K'Andre Miller out for personal reasons
Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Blake Wheeler
Artemi Panarin - Vincent Trocheck - Alexis Lafreniere
Will Cuylle - Nick Bonino - Jonny Brodzinski
Jimmy Vesey - Barclay Goodrow - Tyler Pitlick
Ryan Lindgren - Adam Fox
Erik Gustafsson - Jacob Trouba
Zac Jones - Braden Schneider
The Leafs can always come back. Last night when it was 3-1, I thought a shootout was still a very probable finish. If it had been 3-1 Leafs, I'd have had the same thought.
The Rangers are a much tougher team to play against than the Islanders because they have decent defence, less offence (isn't that amazing?) but that stunningly good power play.
If the Leafs play like they did against the Islanders, where they notched an impressive 39% of the High-Danger Scoring Chances, and 40% of the Expected Goals, well...
The Matthews line did well, the third and forth lines got stomped by the Islanders top six, and Morgan Rielly, TJ Brodie and the second line were tissue paper against the Islanders top line.
But, no matter, the Leafs can always tie it up at the last second.
Matthew Knies - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Tyler Bertuzzi - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Nicholas Robertson - Max Domi - Calle Järnkrok
Noah Gregor - David Kämpf - Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
William Lagesson - Jake McCabe
Simon Benoit - Conor Timmins
Both goalies are unconfirmed so far, but the Leafs really should be playing Martin Jones.
The Rangers big weakness happens for about 50 minutes a game. They aren't very good at five-on-five. Win some matchups, and you can beat them. Take penalties and you get burnt.