MAPLE LEAFS (3-0-0) at RANGERS (1-1-0)
TV: SNET-O (HD), MSG (HD)
Season series --
It's the first of four meetings this season. The Rangers took three of four last season, and the Leafs' only win came in overtime.
Big story --
The Leafs entered the season with a lot of promise, and so far they are living up to it. Wednesday's 4-3 road win against the Pittsburgh Penguins moved them to 3-0-0, their best start since the 1999-2000 season. Meanwhile, the Rangers were 4:24 away from opening the season 2-0, but allowed two power-play goals in the final minutes against the New York Islanders on Monday, turning a 4-3 lead into a 6-4 loss. Captain Chris Drury, who suffered a broken left index finger during a training camp scrimmage, will return to the Rangers' lineup after missing the first two regular-season games.
Maple Leafs --
Comparisons to last season are inevitable. The Leafs opened 0-7-1 to just about end their playoff hopes before Halloween. But this season's club features more than a dozen new faces, and captain Dion Phaneuf
doesn't want to discuss the past.
"Everyone keeps bringing up last year," Phaneuf said. "Well, it doesn't really matter right now. We're focused on this group and this year."
One of the new faces is Clarke MacArthur
, who signed as a free agent this summer. He has 4 goals in three games and is well on his way to exceeding his career high of 17 goals in 2008-09.
The Rangers haven't lost a home opener since 2005-06 and haven't lost in regulation at home to start the season since 2002-03. Playing better at home will be a point of emphasis for the Rangers this season after finishing 18-17-6 at Madison Square Garden last season. Only three teams were worse on their home ice -- the Blues, Panthers and Oilers.
Another big problem the Rangers faced last season that hasn't been a problem this season has been secondary scoring. The Rangers have 10 goals this season, none from Marian Gaborik
, who had 42 a year ago. Derek Stepan
had a hat trick in the opener and Brandon Dubinsky
has 3 goals in two games. It bodes well for the Rangers if Gaborik doesn't have to carry the offense all season.
Who's hot --
Dubinsky has hit the ground running with 3 goals and an assist in two games. Defenseman Dan Girardi
and Artem Anisimov
each have a goal and 2 assists.
-- Leafs defenseman Brett Lebda (shoulder) could make his season debut Friday. Tough guy Colton Orr
was floored by Penguins forward Deryk Engelland in a fight during Wednesday's game and did not return. … Rangers center Erik Christensen
tweaked his leg in Monday's game against the Islanders and could miss tonight's game. Drury, fully recovered from his broken finger, will take his spot in the lineup.
Stat pack --
MacArthur scored 4 goals in his first six games with the Buffalo Sabres last season but just 12 more over his final 75 games. … Christensen needed 18 games to score his first goal last season. He scored in his first game this season.
Puck drop --
"It's a long break here, but we've also got an opportunity to work on some stuff, so that's good. After this, it goes, so I'm looking to get into a nice rhythm." -- Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
, after allowing five goals in a loss to the Islanders on Monday.