Maple Leafs alter lineup ahead of tilt vs. Rangers
TORONTO -- Full of hope with a young and talented team, the Toronto Maple Leafs will not be content with the status quo after an impressive victory in the opening game of their season.
The New York Rangers, meanwhile, predictably were talking about making improvements after dropping their season opener.
The teams will meet Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday for the Maple Leafs' home opener.
The Maple Leafs will be making adjustments to the lineup that produced a 7-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday.
Defenseman Calle Rosen will make his NHL debut Saturday for the Maple Leafs and veteran center Dominic Moore also will play versus his former team.
Those moves will put center Eric Fehr, who was effective killing penalties in Winnipeg, and rookie defenseman Andreas Borgman on the sidelines for the home opener.
"I decided we were going to play Borgman (in Winnipeg) and Rosen here," coach Mike Babcock said on Friday. "I did the same with Fehr. Fehr is a Winnipeg kid and Moore played in New York. In the end, that's how I made my decision.
"If you just base things on (the fact) you won, so you should never change your lineup, the problem is then I don't think you're being fair to our group and developing the best group you can. So those decisions can always be second-guessed on a win/loss basis, but to me we're trying to build our program and do the right thing and evaluate our players and get better, so that's why we're doing it."
Maple Leafs defenseman Martin Marincin cleared waivers Friday and was assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. Rosen was recalled from the Marlies.
The Rangers lost their season opener on Thursday with a 4-2 setback to the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden.
In his first four years as coach of the Rangers, Alain Vigneault has never started a season with back-to-back losses. The last time the Rangers lost their first two games of the season was in 2012-13 under John Tortorella.
Mika Zibanejad scored two power-play goals for the Rangers and had a game-leading eight shots on goal.
The difference in the game was Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who made 37 saves.
"Looking at the result here and what happened, I think that's where they really hurt us," said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed three goals on 25 shots. "Their (defense) jumped in almost every time to make it a 3-on-2 or 4-on-3. Other than that, I thought we played really well, good energy. We created a lot."
"We had some good chances five-on-five, we had some real good chances on the power play," Vigneault said on Friday. "If you break down yesterday's game, their best player was their goaltender and that was a big difference.
"But, at the end of the day, we made a couple of mistakes that we need to improve on and we addressed it a little bit on the ice and we'll address it again (Saturday) on video."
The Maple Leafs made an improvement last season with the development of a skilled, fast young group led by Auston Matthews. They added some veteran players like Patrick Marleau this season.
"You can see how hungry they are out there," said Marleau, who scored two goals Wednesday. "Not only in games but in practice. They're striving to get better each and every day. You want to be part of that and you can feed off that for sure."
The Rangers have a young, talented player of their own in 18-year-old Filip Chytil, who made his NHL debut Thursday. He is the sixth youngest player to play in the NHL since 1967-68 (the first expansion season).
Chytil played only 7:40 in the season opener, but had a big chance to make an impact in the first two minutes on a two-on-one with Mats Zuccarello before his pass sailed off target.
"I think if he makes that play there it gets him going," Vigneault said. "But it was a first game for a young man. I'm sure he was excited and he'll be better next game."
The Rangers were 2-1-0 against the Maple Leafs last season.
Toronto added to its goaltending depth Friday, obtaining Calvin Pickard from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for forward Tobias Lindberg and a sixth-round selection in the 2018 NHL draft.
Pickard, 25, posted a 15-31-2 record with a 2.98 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage in 50 games with Colorado in 2016-17. He was selected by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft on June 21.
In 86 career NHL games, all with Colorado, Pickard has a record of 28-44-6 with a 2.77 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.
Updated October 6, 2017