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Facing Maple Leafs is a welcome change for Rangers

Barclay Goodrow of the Rangers skates in warm-ups

Barclay Goodrow of the Rangers skates in warm-ups prior to the preseason game against the Islanders at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 26. Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

TORONTO – In their fourth game of the season Monday night, the Rangers, for the third straight game, played against a team in the Toronto Maple Leafs that they hadn’t seen at all last year, due to the NHL’s COVID-altered 2020-21 schedule.

And it was refreshing, according to forward Barclay Goodrow.

"Yeah, it's a, it's a nice change,’’ Goodrow said after Monday’s morning skate. "Obviously, last year just playing the same 7, 8 teams. Eight times got, got a little bit old, a little bit stale, I think. So it's been nice to see some new rinks see some different teams.’’

The Rangers opened the season with Metropolitan Division rival Washington, but then followed with games at home against Dallas and on the road in Montreal Saturday before playing Toronto Monday. They continue their trip with games Thursday in Nashville and Saturday in Ottawa, whom they also did not see last season.

"It's nice to be playing other teams for sure, and getting to some new cities, and just seeing the whole league,’’ Goodrow said.

Goodrow, of course, played for Tampa Bay last season, which played in the re-aligned NHL’s Central Division. The Rangers were in the East Division. Teams played a 56-game season, with all the games within the division.

It’s why, forward Kevin Rooney believes, the games against Dallas and Montreal seemed to start slowly.

"It's been interesting the last the last two games we haven't seen those two teams, so I felt like the first periods of both games we're kind of feeling each other out a little bit,’’ Rooney said.

Blue lines

Morgan Barron, called up Sunday when Kaapo Kakko was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, was scratched, along with Ds Libor Hajek and Jarred Tinordi. Greg McKegg, who played Saturday in Montreal, remained in the lineup and centered the fourth line… The Rangers were to fly to Nashville after the game and have an off day Tuesday before returning to practice Wednesday.

New York Sports