Welcome, citizens, to yet another Hockey Night in Canada edition of the GDB as we get ourselves set for tonight’s matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs.
With the way the last game between these two teams went, I don’t think you could blame anyone for being less than optimistic about the rematch. Then again, the Oilers have won four straight games since that loss so maybe getting shelled by the Leafs was exactly what the doctor ordered? Maybe granting Toronto a six-minute window where the Oilers allowed all the goals which completely dismantled their chances of winning happened by design? Maybe Hitch knew this would happen? Maybe that loss is the egg that’s holding this whole meatball together? Though, I’m guessing the answer is much simpler than that. When you run around like a chicken with your head cut off and your goalie can’t bail you out, you’ve got the makings of a long walk down the short path to a bad time.
If the Oilers are going to avenge the 6-2 loss from nine days ago then they’re going to need to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes that cost them the game, and they’re going to need Koskinen to be the wall he has been over this run. While the Oilers were able to get the start they wanted in Toronto, they completely fell apart in the second period at even strength and on the power play, creating a witch’s brew of sadness that completely ruined the night. And even though it’ll be nearly impossible for the Oilers to prevent Toronto from producing offensive chances, they need to do a better job of limiting the space the Leafs have to get creative. They need to be aggressive and limit the Leafs’ time and space. In Toronto, the boys got caught puck watching a lot and that’s a dangerous pass time when you’re going up against a squad that can score truckloads of goals if given the chance.
|LAST 10 GAMES||6-2-2||5-3-2|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Russell
Sekera – Benning
I just want to go ahead and give some props to Zack Kassian for the four-game heater is on and for his overall play in general. Since being moved up to the top line, Kassian has been a war machine and it’s been a lot of fun to watch him step up his game and find a home way up in the batting order.
Hyman – Tavares – Marner
Johnsson – Matthews – Kapanen
Marleau – Nylander – Brown
Ennis – Gauthier – Moore
Reilly – Hainsey
Muzzin – Zaitsev
Dermott – Ozhiganov
Remember when some Toronto media were talking about Auston Matthews scoring 60 goals when he started the season on an absolute heater? I’m not saying that Matthews isn’t a hell of a player, he certainly is, I’m just saying that it’s funny how the narrative has changed.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
No. I can’t see how Babcock gets fired this summer, no matter how poorly the playoffs go. Toronto will play Boston, and that’s the context in which he has to be evaluated again if things go south. I don’t want to make excuses for this team a month ahead of the playoffs, but the Leafs (and Bruins for that matter) are in the somewhat unique position of being perhaps the 2nd best team in the entire league next to Tampa, and having to play the 3rd best in the opening round. Stack them in whatever order you want, but there’s a strong argument that those two are 2-3, especially given how weak the Western Conference has become.
With those points in mind, I don’t think Toronto has a front office that would overlook something like that. Someone like Dave Nonis or Brian Burke probably would, but I think this current group has a pretty firm grasp on how the league operates and which teams are among the true contenders. Turfing Babcock would be a panic move, and Dubas doesn’t really do panic, at least from what I can gather.
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers get great goaltending from Mikko Koskinen, two goals from Leon Draisaitl, and slide into a 3-2 victory.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Despite being able to find cheap tickets on sites like StubHub, many Leafs fans will get gouged on their tickets by much smarter Oilers fans.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: After losing to the Oilers, a movement starts on social media to get Mike Babcock fired just like we saw in Ottawa after that loss. How ever will this team get past the first round of the playoffs if they can’t even beat the Edmonton Oilers?
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 3/9/2019 – 11:00 am MT