The Rangers welcomed Auston Matthews, his 19 tallies, and the Toronto Maple Leafs in an Original Six matchup. Both squads are known for their elongated Stanley Cup droughts. The Rangers ended theirs in 1994 after 54 years of utter disappointment. For Toronto, it’s a bit of a different story. They are currently in the middle of their drought, with their last Cup coming in 1967. Both teams are oddly similar in that they make enough offseason moves to make their fans truly believe that THIS is their year.

Both Original Six clubs are off to hot starts. New York is coming off what might be their most impressive win against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday. The Leafs have earned at least one point in their last six fixtures. Their most recent was an overtime defeat to John Tavares’ former club, the New York Islanders, despite Tavares notching point number 1000. No matter who the teams are, an Original Six matchup rarely disappoints.

No, the title of this section of the article is not to pay homage to former WWE superstar Jeff Hardy’s theme song. Rather, it describes the Rangers form when Igor Shesterkin is in the crease. New Yorkers might relate it to when Jacob deGrom would pitch for the Mets. It seemed a struggle in almost every outing for the now Texas Ranger.

You can blame Shesterkin here, but he is partly to blame. Yes, something does seem off since his return from injury. Yet, one cannot deny that Toronto outplayed the Blueshirts in the opening twenty minutes.

The Leafs opened the scoring with Auston Matthews’s 20th goal of the year. The feed from William Nylander solidified the Swede’s 33rd point in twenty-six games thus far.

Goals from Conor Timmins, Calle Järnkrok, and Mitch Marner continued the onslaught for Toronto. Not enough puck possession for New York led to an evident lack of confidence. You must keep your legs moving against a pacey team like Sheldon Keefe’s squad.

New York found a glimmer of hope thanks to Blake Wheeler’s third of the year, but that was about it. This is where you would expect your all-stars and your stud goaltender to take over the reins.

Second Period Takeaway: The Ranger Resurgence?

New York head coach Peter Laviolette is known for being a motivator. If you have not seen any of his speeches from his time on HBO’s 24/7, they are a must-watch. Whatever was said during the first intermission seemed to work. A brand-new Rangers team exited the locker room a hit the ice for the middle frame.

The first half saw the continued struggles for New York. They were not testing Toronto netminder Martin Jones. Instead, they went back to their old ways by looking for that extra pass. A lifeline that has worked this season for New York has been their powerplay. Luckily, the Blueshirts found themselves a man-up with the hope of staying in this Original Six matchup.

PP1 took to the ice and found Mika Zibanejad in his office for his eighth of the campaign. The patience seemed to pay off and it was nothing but an empty net for #93 in blue.

Scoring would not stop there via a Blake Wheeler snipe to cut the Toronto lead to one. The pass from Zibanejad will get overlooked by the snipe, but what a pass it was. Crazier things have happened, right?

Third Period Takeaway: Too Good to Be True

The crutch for the Rangers used to be that evil, dreaded second period. It is slowly turning into discipline. The Rangers, at times, can be one of the most undisciplined squads. In a one-goal game, you have to make the extra effort to stay out of the box. An interference penalty from Erik Gustafsson led to another Mitch Marner goal to make it 5-3.

Auston Matthews’ second of the game, where Nylander picked up his 34th point on the campaign, followed by an empty netter from David Kämpf sealed a 7-3 win for Toronto. Disappointing for New York as this is what happens when a team does not play a complete game. A solid twenty minutes of play typically does not win you a hockey game.

The Rangers will look to redeem themselves on Friday when they take on the Anaheim Ducks. Another old friends comes in town in the form of Frank Vatrano and his fourteen goals to his name. Puck drop is scheduled on Friday for 7 p.m. EST from The World’s Most Famous Arena.

Main photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Akash Mahi, a dedicated enthusiast of the game, is a recognized expert in the domain of tennis balls. With a keen understanding of materials and aerodynamics, he has contributed to the evolution of tennis ball design, enhancing playability and performance. Mahi's expertise continues to impact both casual players and professionals alike.