Skip to main content

Rangers-Maple Leafs Preview

NHL.com @NHL

The Toronto Maple Leafs are happy to be spending part of their holidays at home.

After completing their longest road trip in nearly a decade, the Maple Leafs take the ice at the Air Canada Centre for the first time since Dec. 10 when they meet the New York Rangers on Saturday night.

Toronto (15-15-8) went 2-3-2 on a franchise record high-tying seven game swing - its longest since January 1999. The Maple Leafs had a chance to post a winning record, but lost 4-1 on Thursday in Philadelphia despite outshooting the Flyers 35-34.

"We've played far better for the majority of the trip," Toronto coach Paul Maurice said. "We're just showing the result of not putting pucks in the net."

After opening the road trip with a 4-0 win in Atlanta, the Maple Leafs have struggled offensively with just 10 goals in their last six games.

A large part of that can be attributed to the recent drought from their top goal-scorers. Mats Sundin, who leads Toronto with 17 goals, had gone five games without one before scoring in Philadelphia. Nik Antropov went the entire road trip without a goal and remains second with 15.

Sundin, though, has 19 goals and 39 assists in his career against the Rangers, including a goal and two assists this season. Antropov has six goals in 21 games - three of those coming in Toronto's 6-3 victory at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 6, his second career hat-trick.

Toronto has won two of three meetings with the Rangers in 2007-08, both in New York.

The Maple Leafs are dealing with a groin injury to starting goaltender Vesa Toskala. The Finn is 13-11-4 with a 2.62 goals-against average, but missed the team's past two games. Andrew Raycroft, who hadn't played since Nov. 24, gave up four goals to the Islanders on Dec. 26 and four to the Flyers one night later.

Toskala's status for this game is unclear.

The Rangers (18-15-4) had been 1-3-2 in their past six games before a 4-2 win against Southeast-leading Carolina on Wednesday.

New York was supposed to have a high-powered offense this season with the additions of free agents Scott Gomez and Chris Drury to go with 600-goal scorer Jaromir Jagr. But the three have only nine goals apiece through 37 games, and Jagr had gone 10 games without scoring before getting a pair against the Hurricanes.

"I know it had been a long time," Jagr said. "It's not easy for the confidence. When you have chances and you haven't scored for a long time, sometimes you do things you wouldn't when you're hot, on a streak. Hopefully, it's behind me."

Jagr has 28 goals and 34 assists in 43 career games against the Maple Leafs, including one goal this season.

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been one of the league's top netminders in 2007-08, posting a 2.20 GAA and six shutouts. But he's struggled in December, posting a 4-4-2 record and a 3.13 GAA.

In his last three road contests, he's allowed 15 goals for a 5.09 GAA. He's 4-4-0 against Toronto in his career with a 3.66 GAA, and has lost four of his last five.

View More