Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 1/14/12

The New York Rangers cannot win every game on their schedule, and everyone knows that, but Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden was unacceptable. By climbing to the top of the standings with repeated winning streaks, the Rangers have set the expectations ultra high for themselves this season. Therefore, losing a game in which they had opportunity after opportunity to win is not satisfying by their standards and tonight they will be seeking redemption when they face the seventh place Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. 

This will be the third meeting of the season between the Rangers and the Maple Leafs, as the first two ended in favor of Toronto, 4-2, both times. The first was the Rangers' home opener back in October, and the second came on December 5, both of which were in front of the Garden crowd. In each game, momentum swings were the main deciding factor in the outcome of the tilt, and the Leafs ended up taking advantage of their opportunities while the Rangers didn't. Sound familiar? (see first paragraph)

Toronto, however, enters this game coming off a loss as well; 3-2 to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. Still, though, the Maple Leafs played well in that game and quite simply came up short in the end. Before Friday, Toronto had won six of their last nine games and, in addition to that, are also a solid 12-5-4 on home ice this season. The Leafs, in many ways, have been yet another surprise team this season, and have been extra hot as of late. They're going to give the Rangers a real test tonight for sure. 

Mikhail Grabovski has been the club's hottest player as of late, registering six goals and 11 points in his last nine games. He and Phil Kessel will be the duo to keep an eye on in this one. 

For the Rangers, prior to Thursday's loss, they were on a five-game winning streak and had won 10 of their last 11 games. They remain atop the Eastern Conference with a 27-10-4 record on the year, but this weekend's back-to-back against the Leafs and Canadiens can surely change that. With the Leafs being a surging team of late and the Canadiens very frustrated and hungry for any wins they can get, the Blueshirts have their work cut out for them over the course of the next two days. 

Despite the winning streak, the Rangers haven't necessarily been playing impressive hockey. They've been streaky in that way, and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was quick to point that out on Thursday. Granted Hank will not be in the lineup with Marty Biron getting the start, he still made a very good point that the Rangers need to take note of. From top to bottom, their entire game needs to be raised to the next level and brought up a notch. 

They will again have to try and do that without Brandon Dubinsky in the lineup tonight, since he will again be out because of a shoulder issue. The Rangers have released no other information on Dubinsky other than that. 

And as I mentioned above, Marty Biron will be getting the start in goal for New York in this one. 

New York Rangers Lineup 

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