GDB 67.0: Oilers vs. Leaves – Round 2 (5pm MT, HNIC)

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
It’s Saturday night and the Edmonton Oilers are in Toronto for a Hockey Night in Canada matchup with the Leafs. Does it get any better than that? Not from where I’m blogging… which is also in Toronto.
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When these two teams last met 10 days ago, the Oilers came up with one of their best defensive performances of the season and they coupled it with five goals that came from throughout the lineup. Not only was the depth scoring on full display, but the boys arguably came up with one of their most complete games overall at both ends of the rink. It was one of those nights where the Oilers did a tonne of things right and picked up the result they deserved, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the oddness of Toronto’s situation in that game with all of their new players they had either missing or in transit. Given that the Leafs basically punted 20% of their roster in favour of alleged upgrades — don’t check my math on that btw — it wasn’t necessarily surprising that they looked lost and disorganized. That said, the Oilers also handled their business like champs so by no means am I letting the Leafs off the hook for getting stomped. Edmonton was the better team and earned that win.
Tonight’s rematch, however, is going down at Scotiabank Arena where the Leafs sport a home record of 23-6-4 through 33 games played. Needless to say, the Leaves are pretty damned good in their own barn with the obvious counterpoint being that the Oilers just beat an even better team in their own rink on Thursday. The point I’m getting at here is that the Oilers shouldn’t be scared of any opponent regardless of where they’re playing, and while there’s little doubt that Toronto has done a good job of racking up wins all season, our boys are playing some of their best hockey right now and that’s a handful for anyone to handle. At their best, the Oilers are unstoppable and my expectation is that everyone in a white uniform will be fired up to play a Saturday night game on hockey’s biggest (read: most annoying) stage. And since there’s a group of 45 us of that will be in a luxury suite for tonight’s matchup as part of the #NationVacation, I’m hopeful that we’ll be witnessing a little bit more of that magic coming through for a second straight win over the Buds.
Let’s see what the numbers say…


Last 10 Games6-3-17-3-0
POWER PLAY%31.625.4
AVG. SHOTS/FOR33.432.1
TEAM SAVE%.912.924
CORSI FOR%51.7751.28
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)




Kane – McDavid – Hyman
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – Bjugstad – Janmark
Shore – McLeod – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Heading into Toronto, the thing I’m most interested in is how or if Jay Woodcroft will alter his lineups after the boys came up with a huge win in Boston on Thursday. While you can certainly make a case for Klim Kostin getting back in after being scratched against the Bruins, Devin Shore finds himself on a three-game point streak right now and arguably deserves to play. Frankly, having depth that’s productive is a nice problem to have, and I’m glad I’m not the one that has to make these decisions. The other decision we’re all waiting on is whether or not Jack Campbell will get the crease for a grudge game in his old barn, but given the way he’s played lately, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Oilers go right back to Skinner.


Kerfoot – Matthews – Marner
Jarnkrok – Lafferty – Nylander
Aston-Reese – Kampf – Acciari
Bunting – Holmberg – Steeves
McCabe – Brodie
Giordano – Holl
Rielly – Liljegren
When you look at the Leafs’ stats, the most obvious thing that sticks out to me is how their depth players have produced at a higher rate than what we’ve seen on our end. Coming into tonight’s rematch, Toronto has 10 players with more than 20+ points whereas the Oilers have only seven. Obviously, the Oilers are getting more from their top four players than the Leafs do, but managing what happens further down the lineup is going to be a critical item on Edmonton’s to-do list.


From Theleafsnation.com:
The first time around wasn’t so pretty, let’s see what the Leafs can do for the encore. Back on March 1st, as per usual, Connor McDavid had his way, especially in the first period. If you’re Toronto, you know he’s going to get his, it’s all about limiting everyone else around No. 97, which obviously is easier said than done. Without question, if the Leafs are going to come away with two points tonight, they’ll have to be much better defensively than they were two weeks ago in Edmonton. Start till finish, that game was a train wreck. It’ll be interesting to see how they modify their game plan tonight, because the last one wasn’t so effective. That goes without saying.
Personally, I think people are making way too much out of Sheldon Keefe’s ongoing experimentation with the lines. As I’ve been stating for weeks, now’s the time to tinker with things and see what you have, especially when you factor in all the changes Toronto’s made over the past little while. It might not benefit the team short-term, but I can respect the long-term approach here. We all love Connor McDavid and company, but tonight’s game has minimal bearing on the season. Furthermore, I like the Lafferty line staying together for another game. They were fantastic on Tuesday night in New Jersey. If you can believe it, the returning John Tavares will centre the third line tonight —at least to start. Load management, baby. Something like that. In short, everyone chill out, these games don’t matter.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: For the second time in under two weeks, the Oilers are the better hockey team and come up with a big 4-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid can’t stop scoring goals and he quiets the Leafs’ faithful with yet another multi-goal performance.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Mattias Ekholm picks up his first goal as an Oiler with a blast from the high slot after he jumped into the play for a perfectly executed pinch.

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