For the third and final time this season, the Rangers will square off with their Original Six foes from Toronto, as John Tavares, Cody Ceci, and the rest of the Maple Leafs are in town. Tonight’s meeting represents the rubber match of the season series, as both teams have already gone on the road and two points in hostile environments.
Sheldon Keefe’s Maple Leafs came into Madison Square Garden and exploded for six goals en route to a 6-3 victory back on December 20th, and David Quinn’s squad went into the hockey mecca that is Scotiabank Arena and pulled out an overtime win by a 5-4 margin. Now, with both teams on the outside looking in at the playoff picture, the two points up for grabs are more critical than ever.
Coach Quinn has opted to shuffle his team’s line combinations ahead of tonight’s game in the hopes of generating more offense at even strength, and Igor Shesterkin will get the nod in net.
Player to Watch: Filip Chytil
Having spent the majority of the season centering some of New York’s lesser players, Chytil will be given his greatest opportunity yet: A full game flanked by dynamic winger Artemiy Panarin. After being recalled from Hartford and performing well initially, Chytil’s scoring has nosedived since December. A 3-4-7 stat line through 26 games, including going pointless in his last six, is exactly the sort of issue Quinn is looking to remedy by juggling his lines. Look for Chytil to find the scoresheet with some help from Panarin tonight.
Enjoy the game!