Wednesday, March 24, 2010

NHL Game Preview: New York Rangers @ Toronto Maple Leafs (3/27/2010)

The March madness odds will be much more intense than the sports betting on this upcoming game between the New York Rangers and the Toronto Maple Leafs and that is a shame. Even though we are not talking about a clash between two Stanley Cup contenders, we are talking about the potential for a very entertaining hockey game here.

The NCAA march madness festivities are working their way down to a final 8, and when that is going on these two NHL teams have a lot to fight for. When you are looking at your March madness betting for the later rounds, you may want to take a long look at this

NHL game preview.

The Rangers still believe they are playing for a playoff spot, but they have not even come close to showing the necessary effort lately. They have lost their last three in a row, and they have only won three of their last 10. They sit seven points out of a playoff spot and the teams they need to catch, the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens, keep winning. Things are getting ugly in Madison Square Garden and the Rangers can feel it.

The Leafs, on the other hand, seem to be gelling together nicely. They have won seven of their last 10 and they just had a winning streak of three games snapped by the Florida Panthers. In goal it looks like J.S. Giguere will be backing up Jonas Gustavsson for the rest of the season as "The Monster" has an active winning streak of five games going that was only broken when Giguere started the last game against the Panthers.

The Rangers rely almost solely on Henrik Lundqvist in goal and it is starting to show. Lundqvist has lost his last three in a row and his play is becoming inconsistent. There is only so much a world-class goalie can do for an awful defensive team, and the Rangers are an awful defensive team.

On offense the Rangers have Marian Gaborik, Vinny Prospal and nothing else. They cannot score, they cannot pressure opposing goaltenders and they do not strike fear in the eyes of opposing defenses.

The Leafs should be in the same boat as the Rangers because the Leafs have no one that comes even close to Gaborik and Prospal numbers. But the Leafs have been consistently putting four or more goals a game past opposing goalies for six out of the last eight games and they have been showing that they can score as a team.

Are the Leafs on the way to a winning season next year? It is hard to say. They have obviously solved their goaltending problem, and now they need to work on their scoring issues. The Rangers need defense and until they bring in players that can clear the zone and keep opposing players out from in front of Lundqvist they will not make the playoffs in any season.

This will be a rough game with the Rangers grasping to their playoff lives and the Leafs trying to show their fans that buying tickets for next season is a good idea. With the way the Leafs have been playing lately, they will be able to make their point.

Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2


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