At a glance: After falling to the Leafs 4-3 in Toronto in Monday, the Rangers get another crack at them as the two clubs wrap up a home-and-home set at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, the Leafs appear set to make their first playoff appearance since 2004 while the Rangers, six points back on the Leafs, are holding tight to the eighth spot.
Last time around: Phil Kessel tallied twice as the Leafs topped the Blueshirts in the Original Six matchup. Rick Nash also notched a pair of goals, but it wasn’t enough to complete a late-game comeback at Air Canada Centre.
Breakout season: Toronto’s Nazem Kadri has been one of the stars of the lockout-shortened 2013 season. After struggling to carve out a roster spot in years past, Kadri is now leading the Leafs with 17 goals and 23 assists in 39 games. The 22-year-old forward, a former first round pick (7th overall, 2009), has five points in the last four games.
Missing their man: The Leafs will again be without forward Joffrey Lupul, who remains day-to-day with a reported neck injury, did not travel with the team to New York, according to TSN Radio’s Jonas Siegel.
Miller sent back: Scratched the past four games, J.T. Miller was sent down to the AHL’s Connecticut Whale on Tuesday. Miller, who has been battling a left wrist injury, last played in the Rangers’ 4-2 win over Winnipeg April 1.
Setting the stage: With a 4-1 win over the Flyers on Tuesday night, the Islanders passed the idle Rangers in the standings as the two division rivals continue to jockey for playoff position. All this makes for an interesting match this weekend, when the surging Isles host the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday.
On the mend: Injured defenseman Marc Staal skated for the third straight day Wednesday morning at the team’s practice facility in Westchester. The 26-year-old Staal has not played since being struck in the eye with a puck on March 5. Staal continues to work on improving his conditioning; he’s also now wearing a visor since sustaining the injury.