The Toronto Maple Leafs have enjoyed an excellent upturn in form over recent weeks, and they will look to continue that when they head to the New York Rangers on Friday night. But, can the Leafs make it three wins on the bounce to kick off a busy festive period?
Sheldon Keefe has certainly put his stamp on this Toronto Maple Leafs side, and they look as though they would be able to secure their playoff berth if their recent results are anything to go by. It has been two wins on the bounce for the Leafs. Also, they have won four in five. The only defeat for Keefe’s side during this run of fixtures has come against the Calgary Flames, and that came exactly one week ago.
Since that 4-2 defeat, the Leafs have won back to back against the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres. The win over the Oilers was a comfortable 4-1 success, with Alexander Kerfoot, Frederik Gauthier, Mitch Marner and Ilya Mikheyev the scorers. That success was followed by another win against the Sabres. Auston Matthews scored twice in that 5-3 success. However, the Leafs will need to sustain their recent results if they want to continue to rise in the Atlantic Division.
The Rangers meanwhile are sitting sixth in the Metropolitan Division, and come into the game having lost their last two. New York’s last success came against the San Jose Sharks seven days ago. That 6-3 win was one of their best performances of the season, with four of their goals coming in the final period. There was a hat-trick in that game for Artemi Panarin, who the Leafs will have to keep quiet if they are to get the win on Friday.
Head to Head
The Rangers hold the advantage in the overall record between the sides. They have won on 28 occasions compared to the 21 wins that have been recorded by Toronto. Four of the Leafs successes have come in overtime, while both sides have won four games apiece in a shootout.
The Maple Leafs will be without Trevor Moore, Nathan Horton and David Clarkson for the clash against the Rangers. Meanwhile, New York will be missing Libor Hajek for their visit to Toronto.
The form book would indicate that this shouldn’t be a particularly hard game for the Maple Leafs. They have been in excellent form over recent weeks, while the Rangers have been struggling to get a win.