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Keys to the Game: Maple Leafs vs. Rangers

by David Alter / Toronto Maple Leafs


The Maple Leafs host the New York Rangers, aiming for their first set of back-to-back wins since December 16th. Here are the Leafs’ three keys to a win.

Play Desperate

One win to eliminate an 11-game winless skid isn’t enough. The Leafs have a long road ahead if they want to have any hope of making up the playoff ground they have lost. Meanwhile, the Rangers have dropped their last two games. They haven’t lost three consecutive games since mid-November. The Leafs have picked up three consecutive wins against the Rangers going back to last season. One win for the Leafs was a start, but only a winning streak will bring a lot of confidence back. The players still have a lot to prove. It all comes down to their desperation level.

Get to Talbot

New York will be playing with a sense of urgency, especially in the absence of their star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. ‘King Henrik’ was sidelined with a vascular injury after taking a puck to the throat. The Rangers will be looking to give Cam Talbot all the support he needed by aiming to light the lamp. The Leafs have scored 11 goals against the Rangers this season and Talbot will likely be very busy. It’s on the Leafs to make it difficult for him. Getting bodies to the net and a strong forecheck are a must for Toronto.

Even-Strength and Faceoffs

The Rangers are a top-five team when it comes to goals-for/goals-against during five-on-five situations. But, they struggle in the faceoff circle. Their 45.1% efficiency is only better better than that of the Buffalo Sabres. With a better possession game in tow, the Leafs can start with the puck more. The home game gives them the better line matchups. When Toronto starts with the puck, they have to make it count.

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