Odds taken by DraftKings Sportsbook
|Toronto Maple Leafs||-1.5 (+160)||O 5.5 (-115)||-150|
|New York Rangers||+1.5 (-190)||U 5.5 (-105)||+130|
These two teams are very evenly matched. They are also very healthy at a point in the season where COVID-19 and hockey-related injuries are ravaging many teams. This should be a close game because both teams have similar skill sets and top goaltenders.
As I mentioned above, the Maple Leafs and Rangers have great goalies. Maple Leafs goalie Jack Campbell only gives up 2.13 goals per game (4th-best in the NHL), and Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin only gives up 1.99 goals per game (best in the NHL). Therefore, since both teams have excellent goalies, this game will be low-scoring.
This game could go either way, but I will pick the underdog Rangers to win it. They have home-ice advantage and are on a two-game winning streak that saw them only give up two goals.
The Rangers beat the Maple Leafs 3-2. Rangers cover, under 5.5 goals.
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|Toronto Maple Leafs||Head-to-Head||New York Rangers|
|Sheldon Keefe||Head Coach||Gerald Gallant|
|24-9-3 (3rd in Atlantic Division)||Standing||25-10-4 (1st in Metropolitan Division)|
|Auston Matthews (40)||Points||Adam Fox (39)|
|Auston Matthews (25)||Goals||Chris Kreider (24)|
|Morgan Reilly (27)||Assists||Adam Fox (34)|
|Alexander Kerfoot (18)||+/-||Ryan Lindgren (17)|
|Auston Matthews (4.58)||Shots (Per Game)||Chris Kreider (3.08)|
The Maple Leafs are a slightly better team than the Rangers, but they are playing on the road in a notoriously loud stadium (Madison Square Garden). Goals will be hard to come by in this game, so the Maple Leafs need to focus on crashing the net and getting second-chance shots. They also need to avoid getting penalties. The Rangers have an efficient power-play unit led by defenseman Adam Fox.
The Maple Leafs will likely be going up against Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin is having an outstanding season and has the best save percentage in the NHL (.939). When a team faces a goalie with the best save percentage in the league, they have to overwhelm him with shots, especially second-chance shots near the goal. That will be the only way they can outscore the Rangers.
The Rangers have a top-ten power-play unit. They score on almost 25% of their power-plays. This is in large part to defenseman Adam Fox and winger Chris Kreider. Fox has 17 power-play assists, and Kreider has 12 power-play goals. Fox and Kreider have become a dynamic power-play duo. It is tough to stop them when they have a man advantage, so it’s best if the Maple Leafs do not give them that opportunity and avoid getting penalties.
The Rangers home-ice advantage is the key to them winning this game. However, they need to focus on a couple of things to secure the win. On defense, they need to focus on limiting the number of Maple Leafs’ shots, and on offense, they need to take a lot of shots.
The Maple Leafs average 34.1 shots per game, almost six more than the Rangers. Most teams that shoot 34 times a game will score a lot. That is the case for the Maple Leafs; the Maple Leafs score 3.39 goals per game. The Rangers defense to step up this game and make life difficult for the Maple Leafs centers and wingers. If the Maple Leafs take fewer shots, they have fewer opportunities to score.
Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell is coming off a tough game that saw him give up five goals in 25 shots. Campbell’s confidence is probably knocked right now, so the Rangers need to take advantage and shoot as much as they can. The Rangers should take shots they usually would not take because one might slip in this game and be the difference-maker.
I cannot say anything bad about center Auston Matthews. He is having another incredible season and coming off a one goal, one assist game against the St. Louis Blues.
Matthews is such a talented scorer and can pass the puck too. The Rangers defense needs to focus on him and try to take him out of the offensive picture. It is unlikely that the Rangers will be able to limit his offensive presence entirely, but they can tire him out and slow him down.
Defensemen are not typically key players, but Adam Fox is an exception. Fox leads his team in time on ice (24:39), assists (34), points (39), and power-play assists (39).
Not only is Adam Fox a great defenseman, but he is excellent at creating offensive opportunities for his teammates. His 34 assists are tied for third-best in the NHL.
The Maple Leafs need to have eyes on Fox at all times. If they lose sight of Fox, he could create a scoring opportunity for his teammates.
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|Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Rangers Information|
|What||Toronto Maple Leafs vs New York Rangers|
|Where||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York|
|When||Wednesday, January 19, 7:30 PM EST|
|How to Watch||TNT|
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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