December 5, 2011
'We can beat the Rangers': Lupul
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
And now for their latest challenge, the Maple Leafs hit Broadway Monday night to face the NHL's second-hottest team.
After back-to-back losses against the Stanley Cup champion Bruins, the Leafs look to avoid their first three-game regulation-time losing streak here when they face the New York Rangers.
"We beat 'em here already, it's not like we don't feel we can beat the Rangers," Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul said. "I think right now, it's two points for us against a team it looks like we'll be battling with all season. As far as confidence, we're not coming in here thinking we can't beat these guys. We know we can.
"We outplayed them the whole game. We know we can play well against these guys and have success."
It won't be as easy as that 4-2 win on Oct. 27 when the Leafs used their speed effectively in one of their more impressive wins of the season. Since then, however, the Rangers have gone 12-2 and are riding a five-game winning streak overall and seven-game winning stretch at the Garden.
The Leafs will go with Jonas Gustavsson in net hoping he can match that performance earlier in the season. With games on back-to-back nights, James Reimer gets the call for Tuesday's meeting with the New Jersey Devils at the Air Canada Centre.
Up front, the Leafs will be hoping the recent lack of production from its top line will end. Phil Kessel, who has a share of the league lead in both points and goals, hasn't scored in four games.
"They're going to be marked and checked a lot harder now because of (where they are) in scoring," Wilson said of Kessel and Lupul. "They're just going to have to deal with that, work hard get shots.
"(Lupul's) got to start shooting the puck more, especially entering the zone. He's sometimes over handling the puck. Shoot the puck, he's got a great shot, same as Phil."
The Rangers owned the Leafs in last year's season series, going 3-0-1 and outscoring Toronto, 14-5.
One of the Leafs major goals to climb to playoff contention this year is to avoid any prolonged losing streaks. So far they've been able to do that, never going longer than two games without recording at least a point.
"We didn't play quite as well as we would have liked in the game in Boston, but at the same time you've got to give them a little credit," said Lupul, who is third in league scoring with 30 points (two behind Kessel and Philly's Claude Giroux.) "What they are doing right now is unbelievable. As much as we would have liked to win both of those games, we've got to remember that nobody's beating them."