It would be an understatement to say the New York Rangers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. In fact, they absolutely embarrassed the Leafs, netting seven goals in a 7-1 drubbing at the Air Canada Centre.
The Leafs were hoping to continue their recent winning ways – they had won their last three games heading into this one and the Rangers were coming off a tough 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before – but fate had other ideas.
Aside from bruising some egos, the loss also dropped the Leafs’ home record on the season to 14-9-1. Their grip on the first Wild Card spot lessened to two points as well.
This was a game that the Leafs needed to win and for all intents and purposes, they should have been able to win it, too. They were coming off an emotional victory over the Detroit Red Wings in the 2014 Winter Classic and (as mentioned) the Rangers were coming directly off a tough loss themselves.
If anything, this should have been an easy victory for Toronto.
I should add that the Rangers are having a horrible season plagued by key injuries and sub-par performances from star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (who didn’t play last night) – all conditions that would normally make then easy prey.
A major limitation to the Leafs is inconsistency. They’ll amaze you one night with solid defence and generous offence, but disappoint you the next night with a virtual disappearance act.
Toronto’s lone goal came from Joffrey Lupul, who avoided a suspension over his questionable hit on Detroit forward Patrick Eaves earlier that week.
Jonathan Bernier, who has slowly emerged to claim the top goaltending job in Toronto, wasn’t very effective. He allowed four goals on 32 shots. James Reimer didn’t prove any better, however, allowing two goals on 18 shots in relief work.
Toronto won’t get the chance to avenge the loss until Tuesday. This time they’ll be taking on New York’s other team – the lowly New York Islanders.
Follow me on Twitter for regular posts about sports (especially the Toronto Maple Leafs), politics and other news topics: @williamefwilson