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Surging Rangers set to host Leafs

by Dave Lozo
MAPLE LEAFS (14-10-2) at RANGERS (15-5-3)


Last 10: Toronto 4-5-1; New York 8-2-0.

Season Series: This is the second of four meetings. The Leafs scored four straight goals to erase an early 1-0 deficit to beat the Rangers 4-2 at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 27. Since that loss, the Rangers are 12-2-1.

Big Story: Many didn't expect this to be the case at the start of the season, but the Leafs and Rangers have been two of the best teams in the East all season. The combination of backups Jonas Gustavasson and Ben Scrivens held the fort while start James Reimer was out with head/neck problems, but Reimer is back in net for the Leafs. 

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: If he starts against the Rangers, Reimer will be facing one of the hottest teams in the League. It shouldn't be a problem, since Reimer played his first game in more than a month against the hottest team in the League on Saturday.

Reimer allowed four goals on 30 shots as the Leafs lost to the Bruins 4-1 in Boston. The Bruins are 13-0-1 in their last 14 and have beaten the Leafs three times this year. Reimer chose to see the positives in the loss.

"It was good to get back in there, but it wasn't exactly the result we were looking for, or I was looking for," Reimer said. "I thought we played pretty well as a team. I thought we had a lot of good chances. The way I see it, (Tuukka) Rask outplayed me today. That frustrates me more than anything. … But I thought the guys fought hard, they blocked a lot of shots for me, they worked their butts off."

Rangers: Just when it looked like they were ready to cool off, the Rangers found a way to win another game.

They erased a one-goal deficit in the third period by scoring three times in a 4-2 road win against the Lightning. Artem Anisimov tied it, Derek Stepan won it, and Brad Richards iced it with an empty-net goal.

"Our battle level was really high tonight," Stepan said after the Rangers' fifth consecutive win. "That was a big part of our success."

Who's Hot: The Leafs' Mikhail Grabovski has 2 goals in his past 2 games, both losses to the Bruins. … Richards has 4 goals and 5 assists in his last 5 games.

Injury Report: Leafs winger Colby Armstrong (ankle) has been out for most of the season but could be back soon. Left wing Mike Brown had back surgery and is out. Defenseman Mike Komisarek is out until January with a broken arm. … Wingers Michael Rupp (knee) and Wojtek Wolski (sports hernia) had their surgeries about a month ago. They were expected to miss about 4-6 weeks, but neither is close to returning.

Stat Pack: Despite the addition of Brad Richards, the Rangers' power play is ranked 20th at 15 percent. Last year, they converted on 16.9 percent of their power-play chances and finished 18th in the League.  

Puck Drop: "The people that moved him had no clue. I was in meetings, I watched it happen and I think they jammed it to him. Brad, I know, respects the group that is here now, but with how he was handled, I don't think he's unhappy about getting a win here tonight." -- Rangers coach John Tortorella, talking about how the Lightning traded Brad Richards to the Stars back when he was still coaching in Tampa Bay
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