Game Notes: Edmonton Oilers @ Toronto Maple Leafs
By Cam Lewis11 months ago
Following wins in Buffalo and Boston, the Edmonton Oilers will look to complete a perfect three-game swing through the Atlantic Division when they face the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
1. Saturday was supposed to be Jack Campbell’s homecoming with him going up against his former teammates in Toronto for the first time since leaving in free agency to join the Oilers on a five-year, $25 million contract last summer. Instead, Campbell will watch from the bench, as Stuart Skinner is starting his third game in a row.
Skinner was excellent in Edmonton’s win in Buffalo earlier this week, as he stopped 37 of the 39 shots that the Sabres threw at him. He had a difficult first period in Boston on Thursday, but then settled down and stopped everything in the second and third periods. Skinner is currently riding a four-game winning streak with a .927 save percentage in victories over the Leafs, Jets, Sabres, and Bruins.
Campbell had a nice stretch in January and early February in which the Oilers won eight of his starts in a row but he’s gone back to struggling since the All-Star break. The last time the Oilers won a Campbell start was back on February 11 against the Ottawa Senators. They’ve dropped his last five outings and Campbell posted an .845 save percentage during them.
2. The Oilers have 16 games left remaining on their calendar and the top spot in the Western Conference is still up for grabs. Campbell has been unplayable lately but the Oilers don’t want to run Skinner into the ground before the playoffs start.
We’ll likely see Campbell return to the net on Tuesday when the Oilers host the Ottawa Senators. They also have games against weak opponents such as the Arizona Coyotes and San Jose Sharks coming up later in the month that could be opportunities for Skinner to rest.
3. Going in net for the Leafs will be Matt Murray, who’s making his second start since spending over one month on the Long-Term Injured Reserve with an ankle injury.
Murray got lit up for four goals on eight shots against the Florida Panthers in mid-January and went on the LTIR shortly after. He returned last week when the Leafs were in Vancouver facing the Canucks and he allowed four goals on 24 shots in a 4-1 loss. Murray has a .908 save percentage over 20 games this season.
The Oilers are a team that Murray is familiar with because he was one of Ottawa’s goaltenders when the Oilers swept all nine meetings with the Senators during the shortened 2021 season. Murray made four starts for the Sens against the Oilers that season and posted an .864 save percentage.
4. The Leafs had a very strange trade deadline. They added Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari, Sam Lafferty, and Jake McCabe in two separate deals, both of which helped make the team better defensively and on the penalty skill.
They also moved young defenceman Rasmus Sandin to the Washington Capitals for Erik Gustafsson and the Boston Bruins’ first-round pick and they essentially swapped depth forward Pierre Engvall for Luke Schenn. It seemed that Kyle Dubas’ plan when trading Sandin was that Boston’s first-round pick would be used to add another forward but that never happened.
O’Reilly suffered a broken finger and likely won’t be back until the start of the playoffs and Toronto’s lack of quality forward depth has become clear since. They’re rolling with 11 forwards and seven defenders against the Oilers on Saturday and Lafferty is slotting in as their second centre…
5. The Oilers can sweep their regular-season series with the Leafs for the first time in the Connor McDavid era with a win in Toronto on Saturday night. Edmonton, of course, won the first meeting between the two teams this season back on March 1 by a score of 5-2.
The Leafs won both meetings between the two teams in 2021-22, they won six of nine games against the Oilers in the All-Canadian Division in 2021, Edmonton and Toronto split their two games in 2019-20, the Leafs won all of their games against the Oilers between the 2016-17 and 2018-19 seasons, and McDavid’s rookie season in 2015-16 saw both teams win one game.
McDavid has 10 goals and 28 points in 20 games against the Leafs for his career.
6. Saturday will be an interesting day when it comes to the out-of-town scoreboard. Former Oiler Jesse Puljujarvi is expected to make his debut with the Carolina Hurricanes as they host the Vegas Golden Knights while the Seattle Kraken will host the Dallas Stars and the L.A. Kings will host the Nashville Predators.
The Oilers are tied with Seattle in the standings with 80 points each but the Kraken have a game in hand. The Golden Knights and Kings are at the top of the division with 84 points.
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