I would all but guarantee the Leafs don't win until they are away from home on their five game road trip they start after tonight. They can go on the road, go into an intense team huddle away from the Toronto media, away from the Toronto fans, freinds and neighbors all asking what's wrong, and focus on playing hockey without any distractions. It's gonna be real tough for them to pull one out tonight at home.
I know everyone's expecting the leafs to come out hungry, looking for blood and trying to make statement with a win against the leagues top team, but look at that lineup, those stats, the pressure from the Toronto media to win a game AND most importantly the goaltending.
Rangers are well rested on a streak with a coach who won't let them glide through this. Rangers will have at least 2 goals by the end of the 1st and win easily.
The only reason I would see to start Vally is that this is a bad team that lost the few good players it has. It should be a win with either goalie.
King Henry would get a game off, keeping him fresh, which will be useful later in the season, especially considering that this is an Olympic year.
Vally will get a game against an easy opponent vs. whom he should have no problem.
If I were the coach of an above average team, it would be the bottom feeders vs. whom I'd start the backups. You can't do it vs. the Sharks or the Pens because the disadvantage would be too high, and while some games would still be won against the top teams, most would be lost.
Literally, everything the Leafs do wrong tonight, they'll get booed.
They take a penalty, booed. They don't score on a PP, booed.
Get the first goal, a little momentum, and we got this.
I say play Vally, the Leafs are desperate. They're going to crash the net for goals as much as they can. That puts Hank at risk every shift. Plus, Vally has shown he can play well, especially against Toronto.