Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Rangers – Game 4 preview, screened lineups & TV news – .

Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Rangers – Game 4 preview, screened lineups & TV news – .

After competing in an all-Canadian division last season and enduring six exhibition contests and three regular season games against the same two teams (Habs and Sens), the Maple Leafs finally face an American opponent for the first time since August 2020. as they host the New York Rangers tonight in Toronto (7 p.m. EST, Sportsnet).

Not only will the Leafs see an American opponent for the first time in more than a calendar year, defending Rocket Richard winner Auston Matthews will also play his first game since undergoing wrist surgery during the off-season.

The Leafs were in a bit of a sticky situation when it came to managing their top six and best power play without Matthews fully available. With their star players skating but avoiding contact and unable to make it into exhibition games, the team balanced the search for new combinations while preparing for their eventual comeback.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Matthews’ return will be the opportunity to see the team’s best power play unit at full strength. Mitch Marner, under new special team chief Spencer Carbery, has moved to center and is no longer the primary puck handler on the half-wall in the zone. Even though the regular season started without Matthews, it was Jason Spezza who moved up to the top unit on the right flank, allowing Marner a few reps in his new role, where he didn’t necessarily appear to be fully in the game. comfortable for three games. However, we can’t really get a conclusive read on the overall dynamics of the unit, without the team’s two very dangerous shooters outside of Matthews and William Nylander, and until Marner has the time. to adapt.

At 5v5, Matthews’ return means four new line combinations up front based on Sunday’s practice lines, as he sits between Marner and Nick Ritchie, while John Tavares finds William Nylander on a line with Michael Bunting. Alex Kerfoot goes to the wing on the control line with David Kampf and Ondrej Kase, passing Pierre Engvall to the fourth line with Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds. Michael Amadio will be in the press box as an additional striker.

With Petr Mrazek’s groin pull leaving him out for at least a few weeks, Jack Campbell has the option of continuing to run with the crease for now. However, with a back-to-back game looming on Friday and Saturday where they play Toronto on Friday and Pittsburgh on Saturday, third string player Michael Hutchinson could get the green light for either of those starts. The Leafs won’t have another back-to-back game after that until mid-November.

In the Rangers net, 25-year-old goaltender tandem Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev are their biggest X-factor this season. Both goalies missed time with injuries in 2021, but it was Shesterkin who started 31 games against 18 for Georgiev as they finished the season with save percentages of .915 and .905, respectively. .

Tonight, it will be Shesterkin who gets the start as he tries to escape with a starting role in a competitive tandem. Shesterkin started the Rangers overtime loss to Dallas and their 3-1 win in Montreal on Saturday, stopping 54 of 58 shots in total.

Offensively, Chris Kreider is responsible for half of Rangers’ six goals in three games as players like Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are still looking to get into the goals column early on.

Match Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on how he sees this year’s Rangers squad:

It’s a good team that has a good balance of established veteran NHL players, but also very talented and skilled young guys – that’s really what stands out. It’s the start of the season, so you don’t really have a sample to watch them and their identities and come out, but you can definitely see it. [Gallant] brought back from Vegas and how that fits into their group.

I think the forward failure and the pressure is a big part of it, attacking the net – those are the things that stand out to me.

Keefe on the impact of Auston Matthews’ return to training:

Well that makes us a deeper team – that’s what I love the most. Playing without him and Mikheyev obviously changes our group a lot, but we think our guys did a good job in their absence. With Auston back here today, everyone fits in a little differently.

We spoke this morning – the opportunity for us is to keep doing the things we were doing. We know what [Auston] means to our team and we know we’re a better team with his presence there, but the individuals and the group and what we ask our team to do doesn’t change no matter who is in or out.

Keefe on power play work during camp without Matthews:

This is the only area where we want to improve considerably, looking back on last season. It has been an increased challenge to do so without having the preseason games and even minimal training reps with Auston present. We tried to imitate him in a way and keep the hand of the players [the same] – Mikheyev is a left shooter and has played a lot here.

We look forward to bringing it together here today and building from there.

Keefe on how Rasmus Sandin gained a regular role despite his inexperience:

This is a testament to his talent and the maturity we have spoken of beyond his years. I coached him with the Marlies when he was 18, and he just came out of junior hockey and was leading our power play. He looked like he had been in the league for a very long time. You also see it here now.

I agree that as you become a more competitive team it becomes more difficult for young players to get in, but at the same time it’s your biggest challenge as a organization. You want to recruit and develop young players who can come here quickly so they can contribute.

Keefe on how Nick Ritchie is fitting in so far:

Nick is a player who is really important to us and who I try to get to know as much as possible. It’s one thing to watch him in another jersey with a different team and a different structure and all that – when he’s in our system and our structure, it’s a whole different thing. He’s a guy that I watch very closely – I think he can make real progress in his game offensively.

At the same time, I think he did some very underrated things that went unnoticed. When he gets the puck as a big player a lot of times the next play goes to one of our sticks – it’s an underrated but extremely important play for playing with good players.

Toronto Maple Leafs projected lines

#20 Nick Ritchie – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#58 Michael Bunting – #91 John Tavares– #88 William Nylander
# 15 Alex Kerfoot – # 64 David Kampf – # 25 Ondrej Kase
#47 Pierre Engvall – #19 Jason Spezza – #24 Wayne Simmonds

#44 Morgan Rielly – #78 TJ Brodie
# 8 Jake Muzzin – # 3 Justin Holl
# 38 Rasmus Sandin – # 23 Travis Dermott

Entry: # 36 Jack Campbell
#30 Michael Hutchinson

Supplements: Michel Amadio
Injured / Exhausted
: Ilya Mikheyev, Petr Mrazek, Timothy Liljegren

New York Rangers projected lines

# 13 Alex Lafrenière – # 93 Mika Zibanejad – # 20 Chris Kreider
# 10 Artemi Panarin – # 72 Filip Chytil – # 21 Barclay Goodrow
#91 Sammy Blais – #17 Kevin Rooney – #12 Julien Gauthier
#29 Dryden Hunt – #47 Morgan Barron – #75 Ryan Reaves

#55 Ryan Lindgren – #23 Adam Fox
# 79 K’André Miller – 8 Jacob Four
# 12 Patrik Nemeth – # 64 Nils Lundkvist

Entrée: # 31 Igor Shesterkin
# 40 Alexandre Georgiev

Injured / Exhausted: Ryan Strome, Kappo Kakko


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