The Metropolitan Division leading New York Rangers will face one of the hottest teams in the NHL on Wednesday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to the Big Apple in a match-up of Original Six teams. Both Toronto and New York are in good position to make the playoffs as the Eastern Conference is more stratified than it has been in years. Both fanbases have been used to disappointment over the last two decades, but it’s been particularly heartfelt in Toronto as the Maple Leafs haven’t won a playoff series since the lockout.
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Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Rangers
When: Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
The two previous meetings between these teams this season were low scoring. The New York Rangers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in overtime in mid-October thanks to a stellar performance from goaltender Igor Shesterkin who stopped 40 shots in the win. Mika Zibanejad opened the scoring and then set up Artemi Panarin for the game-winner in overtime.
Toronto took down the Rangers a month later by the same 2-1 score line. The Maple Leafs dominated the circle, winning 37 of 46 faceoffs, and defenseman Morgan Rielly lit the lamp both times for Toronto in the victory. Goaltender Jack Campbell had a solid outing too, stopping 27 of 28 shots.
What to Watch
The Maple Leafs are happy to be back on the ice. Toronto had six straight games postponed because of COVID and didn’t play from December 15 to December 31. They also saw games postponed on January 3 and January 6, and Monday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils was postponed last week because of attendance restrictions in Canada.
Toronto’s most recent game was a 6-5 win at St. Louis on Saturday where Morgan Rielly, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner all had two points.
We haven’t seen the New York Rangers take the ice since Saturday either. The Rangers had a scheduled break at this point in their schedule after a five-game road trip that included a four-game Western Conference road swing. They went 2-2 against the Western Conference teams before beating the Flyers 3-2 in Philadelphia on Saturday.
Toronto is expected to be without defenseman Justin Holl and wingers Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie in this game. Winger Kyle Clifford is also listed as day-to-day with an injury.
Meanwhile, the Rangers have just one player on the injured list in Alexis Lafreniere. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft is on injured reserve, but he has struggled this year with just eight goals and three assists in 37 games.
Auston Matthews has been the best weapon on Toronto this season. Matthews leads the Maple Leafs with 25 goals and 40 points, and he has lit the lamp nine times on the power play. That led to him being one of two All-Star Game selections for Toronto. William Nylander and John Tavares have played well too, but no one else has more than eight goals for the Maple Leafs.
Goaltender Jack Campbell was named to his first All-Star Game as a result of a stellar start to the season. Campell is 19-5-3 in net for Toronto, and he has a 2.13 GAA and a .931 save percentage.
The New York Rangers are led from the back by defenseman Adam Fox. He leads the team with 39 points thanks to his 34 assists and that has him ranked in the top five in the NHL in assists. Fox was named to his first All-Star Game because of his play, and Chris Kreider also earned ASG honors after lighting the lamp 24 times in 39 games.
Unfortunately, Artemi Panarin was left off the All-Star Game roster despite ranking second on the Rangers with 38 points.
Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Rangers Free Pick
The hosts are the pick here as they are a more well-rounded team. Toronto is led by a handful of stars, but it’s more of a team effort for the Rangers.
Maple Leafs at Rangers Best Bet: New York Rangers ML
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