In a must-win situation against the Minnesota Wild Sunday night, the New York Rangers put together their most complete effort in weeks. They won 4-1 behind timely goal scoring and excellent goaltending by Cam Talbot. Now, they have to do it all over again against the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night. It is another must-win situation, but the task will be a lot tougher.
The Leafs gave the Rangers fits last season with their speed. While the Rangers will now be able to match that speed, they certainly will have trouble matching up against Toronto’s offensive prowess. The Rangers were able to get away with several defensive breakdowns early in their game against the Wild, but the Leafs will not allow them to be so lucky.
Toronto boasts four lines that can beat you on the scoreboard. Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Joffrey Lupul and David Clarkson are capable of turning any Rangers mistake into a goal. The team is seventh in the NHL in goals scored. Simply put, if the Rangers’ defensemen are not up to the challenge it’s going to be a long night on Broadway.
However, the Leafs come in on a cold streak, losing five of their last seven games. One of their top defensemen, Cody Franson, will miss the game with a hip injury. The Rangers did break a cold streak of their own Sunday night, so anything is possible. This is a golden opportunity to kick a reeling Leafs team while they’re down.
The Rangers played one of their best games of the season Sunday night, and they need to take all the positives out of that game and translate them to the ice against the Leafs. If not, all good feelings that began to creep into the minds of the team and fans will evaporate quickly.