Would it be hyperbolic to suggest that tonight’s rematch between the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs is as close to a must-win game as it gets for our boys? I don’t think so. I mean, a 4-6 record would feel a whole lot different than 3-7, no?
After months of waiting for the NHL to come back, it’s almost hard to believe that we’re nearly 20% of the way through the 2021 schedule already, which is a strong reminder of how important every game is this year. For our beloved Edmonton Oilers, we’re already approaching a point of the season where there is no room for missed opportunities and that pressure is adding another layer of stress to our fandom that I hadn’t really considered. I never imagined getting my ginch in a twist at the levels I have by game 10 of the regular season, but with the way things have been going, I’m now starting to think I may actually die by the end of this thing. Alright, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you get the idea. The North Division kicks ass and I’m going to be sad when it goes away.
In the first mini-series against the Leafs, the games were split with each side picking up a win and that’s exactly what the Oilers need to happen again. I think both teams would probably agree that there have been mistakes over the first three games that they’d like to clean up, and in the fourth installment of this season series, I’d bet on a higher level of execution from both sides which means that our boys had better keep their puck choices tight. High percentage plays rather than cross-ice hopes and dreams can make a world of difference when it comes to keeping your opponent’s goal-scoring chances to a minimum. I would also request that the Oilers recognize that a National Hockey League game is 60 minutes and that they also understand that offering up anything less than that in terms of overall effort will likely result in more losses than wins. The choice is theirs, really. Thank you.
Let’s get to the numbers.
|LAST 10 GAMES||3-6-0||7-2-0|
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||52.30||47.64|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
RNH – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Kahun – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Neal – Turris – Kassian
Ennis – Shore – Archibald
Nurse – Bear
Koekkoek – Barrie
Jones – Larsson
This team needs to find a way to stop making catastrophic errors in their own zone that result in goals against. On Thursday night, Yamamoto got caught with a soft clearing attempt and the ended up in the back of the net shortly after. These are errors that can’t happen at that stage of the game, and I’m curious to see what adjustments (if any) are put in place for the rematch.
Not to mention, Kostco, we need you, big man. I know that he’s overplayed at this stage, but we desperately need Koskinen to shut the door and play at the level we saw from him a year ago. I mean, if we had that same .917 save percentage right now rather than the .895 he’s sporting then we’d certainly have more points in the bank.
As of this morning, no line combos has been released yet but I’ll jump back in to edit once they do.
Hyman– Matthews – Marner
Mikheyev – Tavares – Nylander
Vesey – Kerfoot – Simmonds
Spezza – Boyd – Barabanov
Reilly – Brodie
Muzzin – Holl
Lehtonen – Bogosian
Despite winning the game on Wednesday, Frederik Andersen only sported a .897 save percentage, which is right in line with the .896 save% he has overall. My point here is that the Oilers aren’t firing nearly enough shots at this guy, and if they can figure that out, then I think we’re going to be alright. Or keep passing the puck around the perimeter and hope for better results, either way.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
The Toronto Maple Leafs have won, once again. Both Wayne Simmonds and Auston Matthews have scored goals in consecutive games and Mitch Marner is one point behind Connor McDavid for the league lead.
Frederik Andersen had another solid performance and is now 7-0 in his career against Edmonton. Leon Draisaitl added two goals on the power play after the Maple Leafs took seven in this game.
They now have 38 minor penalties in nine games so far this season. Is that good? No. But the referee’s didn’t help by calling some that aren’t even penalties. I swear it happens in every single Maple Leafs game and it needs to stop.
Oh well, the Leafs won and that’s all that matters.
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers start out slow but they’re able to weather the storm before turning things around and closing out a 4-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: The broadcast will remind us that Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews trained together in the summer at least six times. Did you know they trained together in the summer? You did? Cool.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Since no fans are allowed at Rogers Place, the OEG mandates that all arena staff must eat at least three Bobby Nicks Burgers per week since they dramatically overestimated the demand when making their initial patty purchase.
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