TAKE TWO (PRE-GAME OPINIONS)
After a forgettable game last night, the Leafs have a chance to redeem themselves of their slow start by taking on last season's Eastern Conference Champion, the Rangers. Like the Leafs, the Rangers also got blown away by their opponent 5-2 last night. However, they have won once before and they are a good balanced team, so they should not be taken lightly.
The day that some of you have been waiting for is finally here: Optimus Reim will get the nod in goal for the first time this season! Not that Bernier has lost his mojo, but he has had a slow start to the season and a fresh face in net should help the Leafs.
As for the rest of the team, playing sound defensive hockey will be an important factor in their performance. Last night's game play can be summed up in one word: awful. If the Leafs actually come to play for tonight's game, unlike yesterday's match-up, then this should be a closer game.
Ashton, Frattin, Percy, Booth (injured)
3 Keys to Victory
1) Play 110 times better than the previous night. It's that simple. Like I said before, if the Leafs come to this game prepared to play, then they should be in better shape. The good news is that the Rangers are missing a few key members to their lineup (Stephan and Boyle) which should help the Leafs out a ton. But that doesn't mean the Leafs should take them lightly, The Rangers are a well balanced team, especially considering that Nash is on the top line and Lundqvist will be in net tonight.
2) Phil Kessel remembers how to contribute. Last night was probably a night Kessel would like to forget. He was very sloppy, made selfish plays, and took way to many penalties. In an interview after the game, he summed up the performance of his line: "We didn't get shit done." With the possibility that the top line may be split up, Kessel in particular needs to step up his game in a positive way. Even if he doesn't score a point, it would be better to see the Kessel we know and love play a better game. The say can go to his linemates JVR and Bozak (who scored in yesterday's game). But because of who he is, Kessel is on the chopping block for tonight.
3) Get good shots on Lundqvist. Let's get one thing out of the way: Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the NHL, hands down. Now that that's done, if the Leafs were to have a fighting chance against this top tier team, they need to get good opportunities on The King. It doesn't have to be on regular 5 on 5 plays, power play chances and even shorthanded chances can be effective. As long as the Leafs are providing good coverage in front and working the cycle down low, the Leafs should be able to score at least two or three goals no problem.
It looks like these two teams will have a defensive battle tonight. Take into consideration that both teams were outscored and outplayed by their opponent the night before, so they should be ready to play. the score will be 3-2 and JVR will get his first point of the season, and a new guy will contribute in some way.