Toronto Maple Leafs came into Madison Square Garden Thursday night after coming off a home game vs the Islanders Wednesday night. A back to back for Toronto had the Rangers hopes high and a hopeful win on the horizon.
Unfortunately, it did not turn out that way. 8:42 into the first period, Toronto’s rookie defenseman Justin Holl scored his second goal in two games to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead. Holl inked himself in Maple Leafs history being the only defenseman to score their first two goals in their first two games. Just 7:11 minutes later, Maple Leafs would score one more time off a James Van Riemsdyk(20) backhand goal infront of the net. This goal was just one of the examples of how poorly the Rangers played the first, a breakdown in the defensive zone gave JVR the room to sneak behind the defenseman in which Connor Brown fed him perfectly for a Toronto 2-0 lead.
Concluding the first period Ranger fans let the players hear it as “boos” echoed throughout the arena and the first period horn rang. A well deserved “boo” and a glimpse of what the rest of the season could look like.
And that’s the game…
The second period started off just 52 seconds with a Toronto goal, from the high slot off a blocked Kadri shot, left all alone for Marleau who rifles one past Lundwvist for a 3-0 lead. Even the announcers were confused as to how this goal went in, the Rangers played a terrible first, started the second off with an almost breakaway attempt by the Leafs and then a goal within the first minute. The questions among this goal though are, where are the Rangers, Kadri’s shot got blocked about 5 feet inside the blue and Marleau was just above the circle with literally not ONE Rangers player on him. The Rangers looked to be enjoying break still during this game. Toronto’s 4th and final goal of the game came off Zach Hyman driving to the front of the net for a nifty in close backhand goal. Again, we ask where are the Rangers? A step by Brady Skeji to start, where Skeji should not have stepped, Nylander chips it out to Hyman, who drives wide, drops it to Nylander for a pass back to Hyman and Hyman just goes walking in, no back check pressure, no eliminating lanes, Marc Staal played that terribly. All in all this was a terrible game for the Rangers.
The Leafs would not score in the third nor would the Rangers, the game would end 4-0. And filled with plenty of “boos” and upset Ranger fans and players. During the second period the Rangers first power play opportunity that period, they managed to get one shot on net, but besides that struggled to gain pressure in the zone and even break the puck out which resulted in yet another Ranger “boo”. This is terrible news for the Rangers, Lundqvist got yanked yet again this game, he allowed four goals on 13 shots, in came Ondrej Pavalec who stopped all 19 shots he faced. Lundqvist expressed his feelings in the post game conference. It seemed as if Lundqvist was upset but had no real answer.
Takeaways from the game
The Rangers got out shot 32-25, went 0/3 on the power play, out hit the Leafs 23-10, blocked more shots, had less giveaways, but an substantial less takeaways (7 to 2 in favor of Toronto). This is not a good sign for the Rangers, because things do not get easier, as they travel to Nashville to play one of the best home teams in the NHL now.
After the game the Rangers were saying all the right things, Alain Vigneault said they had two good practices and they should have been better than that. Should of, could of, would of. Lundqvist put some of the blame on him saying he needs to be better than that. We understand he is hard on himself but the team in front of you needs to help also. Ryan McDonagh to conclude the post game conference said
“I think we let our guard down, even a few minutes within a period. A team like that will make you pay. We don’t have enough time and enough games here that we can afford to let down our guard and let down our structure and our playmaking ability when we have the puck.”
The Rangers now travel to Nashville Friday afternoon to face off against the Predators for a Saturday (2/3) game, puck drop will be 8:00 P.M. A day to rest, refocus and hopefully wake up a little bit.