I was going to hold off doing Peepin' Foes until later in the season but circumstances are just too great not to put together a post: 1- the New York Rangers are opening their home schedule, 2- they are facing a Original Six opponent and 3- that opponent is the undefeated Toronto Maple Leafs. The last Original Six opponent the Rangers faced on opening night was the Blackhawks two years ago, and now they are the defending champs. The Leaf fans aren't willing to wait an extra year, they are already planning the parade for this season ... good luck with that.
Where We Are: One win, one loss. In years past I begged people not to take the hot start seriously and this time around the Rangers have yet to fool anyone. After dominating the first two periods against Buffalo, the Rangers have been well, the Rangers. The difference being the ease at which the puck has gone into the net for seemingly everyone not named Gaborik or Frolov.
Where They Are: Haven't you heard? 3-0 baby! Stanley Cup baby! As David Shoalts pointed out in the Globe, all of the hard hat guys are doing what hard hat guys are supposed to do - bust their behinds every second of every shift. That being said, the Leafs have yet to face a real goaltender - they beat up serial smoker Jesus Price, ouch-I'm-hurt-again Pascal Leclaire and day-glo-smile Marc-Andre Fleury, who allowed four goals on 14 shots. Yeah, that's embarrassing.
Who To Watch For: Clarke MacArthur - of no fame whatsoever but formerly of Atlanta and Buffalo - has four goals in three games so he is the hot hand coming in. The lone true offensive star, Phil Kessel, has two goals and an assist while the Cup winner Burke added Kris Versteeg has one goal and one assist. Olympic brawler Mikhail Grabovski is goalless but has three assists while the expected first line center Tyler Bozak also hasn't scored and only collected a lone helper. Broken Hearted Gustavsson took the win against Pittsburgh so Ron Wilson could very well put him back in the crease opposite his Swedish counterpart but Jiggy took the Leafs' first two wins so it may be his turn to take the net.
What To Watch For: The return of Chris Drury screwing up any kind of chemistry the second Tortorella realizes Dru is incapable of keeping up with his wingers and starts juggling lines. The decision to dress Hobey Gilroy for the solid Mike Sauer instead of the incompetent Steve Eminger costing the Rangers a goal or two. Sloppy Seconds Phaneuf or Sloppy Seconds Komisarek going after Sean Avery. Toronto's discipline will be important; so far they have gone a decent 1-8 on the kill, thank you Freddie Sjostrom. The other former Ranger, Colton Orr, may not even play. His status from what I've seen is uncertain as he was knocked the f^(& out by minor league heavy Deryk Engelland.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: A lavish opening ceremony that hopefully won't suck as bad as the Blue Man Group. Nothing stupid by MDZ in the Ranger zone. Derek Stepan not falling prey to nerves and regaining his scoring touch as his linemate Avery drives everyone on Toronto batshit crazy (like their fans). Boogey vs. Orr. If no Orr, Mike Brown to pick up the fisticuffs for the Leafs - he battled Brandon Prust twice (1, 2) two years ago. A return of the lousy Leafs of last season rather than the one steamrolling through the beginning of this campaign.
Also Check Out: Down Goes Brown (who often combines with Bloge Salming to form the Voltron of hockey humour), Toronto Mike, the Bitter Leaf Fan (who will have to find a new name if they keep winning) and of course the Pension Plan Puppets. PPP is probably one of the top-five best team-specific blogs out there and a must-read if you care at all about the Leafs. But if you do, may god have mercy on your soul.