matthews-auston-040617-620.jpg

Spencer Lussier

He's back! 

Toronto Maple Leaf fans will be getting an early Christmas gift tonight as Auston Matthews returns to the Leafs lineup in their matchup against the New York Rangers. Matthews has been out since December 9th, after a collision with defenceman Morgan Rielly that left him shaken up. The second-year star confirmed yesterday he has been suffering from concussion symptoms which explains his absence from the lineup. The Leafs come into MSG on a four-game losing skid on the road and will look to snap the skid before the Leafs go on the holiday break. With the addition of Matthews to the lineup, The Leafs will hope their offences falls into place with their star back. Aside from the 8-1 win on Tuesday, the Leafs offence has looked awful in December. Look for this game to be the complete opposite from their first meeting this season, when the final score was 8-5. Both Frederik Andersen and Henrik Lundqvist has settled into the season and can be game breakers for their respective teams, so don’t count on softies finding their way past these two goalies.

Player to Watch for New York:

In the first meeting of the season, Mats Zuccarello led all players with a four-point performance back in October. For the Rangers to find success on offence, Zuccarello needs to be involved in this game. The Rangers winger has been one of the leagues hottest players in December with nine points in ten games this month and five points in his last five games.

Watchability Scale:

I will give tonight’s game a 4/5 on the scale. There are so many different ways this game can unfold which intrigues me. The offences can go toe-to-toe with each other and have an explosive game like the one in October, or both goalies put on a show and it becomes a dual in the crease. Auston Matthews is back which always helps in the viewership numbers and this is the last game before Christmas, so ya, along with millions of other Canadians, I will be watching.

Lines: 

Leafs:

Hyman - Matthews - Nylander

Marleau - Kadri - Komarov

JVR - Bozak - Marner

Martin - Moore - Brown

Hainsey - Rielly

Gardiner - Carrick

Borgman - Polak

Andersen

Rangers:

Kreider - Zibanejad - Buchnevich

Nash - Desharnais - Zuccarello

Grabner - Hayes - Vesey

Carey - Nieves - Miller

McDonagh - Holden

Skjei - Shattenkirk

Staal - Smith

Lundqvist