To nobody's surprise, Stephen Valiquette will start in goal. From early indications it looks as if Dan Fritsche will get the nod alongside Chris Drury and Markus Naslund. I don't really understand it - or the fact that Tom Renney sees so much need to keep shuffling the line combinations despite the relative success the Rangers have had. Traditional wisdom says that players need a little bit of time getting used to each other before they can be as effective as possible. However, it's been working, and I think that we ought to give Renney the benefit of the doubt considering he knows his team as well as anybody. But onto the game..
The Leafs are 4-3-3 and have had an up and down first 10 games that featured an impressive opening night victory over Detroit and a subsequent 5 game losing streak. Since then, they've won 3 of 4 including a 6-5 shootout win in New Jersey on Wednesday.
The Rangers will look to contain Niklas Hagman, Nik Antropov, and Alexei Ponikarovski (team leading 9 points) and keep the Toronto shot total down. The Maple Leafs have averaged 40 shots per game over their last 5 contests including an impressive 48 shot performance in their most recent game against the Devils.
The Toronto penalty kill has been pretty poor, operating at 79%. We'll see if the Rangers can get their power player going like they did in last year's 2nd visit to Toronto when they amassed 5 power play tallies in a 6-1 victory.
Ryan Hollweg really got tagged by Mike Rupp in a scrap during Wednesday's game, and boy is it evident. That's one of the worst black eyes I've seen in some time.
Weak interference call on Brandon Dubinsky but I can see why they made it. He certainly impeded the player even though it was by a pretty small margin.
Great play by the entire unit on the ice to grab the 1-0 lead. Redden successfully pinched and got the puck deep to Dawes behind the net, who banked it off the halfboards to Dan Girardi. Girardi then found Ryan Callahan with a cross-ice pass to the bottom of the left faceoff circle, who converted. All of this was made possible by Scott Gomez, who tied up the puck behind the net to start the play and distracted Toskala, Kaberle, and Dominic Moore in the slot.
Solid period for the Rangers the three penalty kills, great defensive zone play, and now a goal to show for it.
The fourth line of Betts, Sjostrom, and Orr has been solid tonight and now have something to show for it. Great plays by Sjostrom to dig it out and get it to Kalinin, and Betts waiting patiently at the side of the net. This line has been winning battles all game.
There were several momentum shifts in the 2nd period, but the Rangers took over play from the Betts goal on. A fairly undisciplined penalty by Ryan Callahan was again killed off by the impressive Rangers penalty kill. 2-0 after two periods.
More great work by the fourth line as Colton Orr powered to the net and drew a penalty. It's been said before and I'll say it again, Orr has really become a solid hockey player.
Toronto scores two quick goals to tie the game up. The first one came on a failed clear by Dmitri Kalinin, and John Mitchell used Marc Staal as a screen to rip it high glove side. The second goal came off some pressure by Dominic Moore and slowly trickled toward the net. Certainly a soft goal.
Tom Renney's timeout doesn't work. The blast by Pavel Kubina gets through traffic to give Toronto a 3-2 lead.
Valiquette, clearly rattled, gives up the fourth goal on an unscreened wrist shot from John Mitchell. The Rangers have been shocked and are now having difficulty clearing the puck.
More pressure from the Leafs and Dominic Moore puts one home. This one is over. 5 goals in 5:30.
Overall, the Rangers played a solid game 52 minutes through but let this one get away. A combination of shaky defensive zone play and bad goaltending down the stretch contributed to this loss. Though there were some positives to take out of this game (most particularly the work of Betts, Sjostrom, and Orr), I'm sure nobody in that locker room wants to think about them right now.