Oilers Gameday: @ Maple Leafs

Oilers Gameday: @ Maple Leafs

Oilers

Oilers Gameday: @ Maple Leafs

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The Edmonton Oilers will tonight try to accomplish what the Montreal Canadiens did to them on Monday night. They’ll be looking to complete a two-game sweep of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena when the sides meet at 7:00 pm est / 5:00 pm MT.

It’s the second of nine meetings this season between the sides, and the second of four meetings in roughly ten days. The Oilers took a 3-1 decision on Wednesday night, and will look to get back to .500 on the season in this one. Edmonton is also getting reinforcements as James Neal is expected to make his season debut.

Frederik Andersen will start for the Maple Leafs, while Mikko Koskinen makes his sixth start of the year for the Oilers.

Keys To The Game:

Edmonton: Continue the defensive awareness. Most fans and media will want to call Edmonton’s performance on Wednesday night boring, but they held the Maple Leafs to just 26 shots and rendered their offensive largely ineffective at five-on-five. Edmonton also was able to control the game and fire eleven shots on net in the third period while locking it down defensively. Keep playing that defensive style, and the Oilers will be in good position to take home two points tonight.

Toronto: Create more speed through the neutral zone. Edmonton did a good job of preventing Toronto from creating odd-man rushes on Wednesday night, but the Oilers defense does not have the speed and skill to keep the Maple Leafs down for too long. If Toronto is able to gain the zone with entry and with speed, they should be able to create ample scoring chances against Koskinen.

Players To Watch:

Edmonton: James Neal is back at it for the Oilers. Neal will make his season debut tonight, likely skating on the fourth line with Devin Shore and Josh Archibald. In addition, Neal is likely to replace Alex Chiasson on the team’s top powerplay unit. Edmonton’s powerplay is off to a sluggish start, but Neal was a monster in this area a season ago with 12 goals and could make an immediate impact. The powerplay is beyond due for a big night, and Neal could be the missing piece.

Toronto: There will be no Auston Matthews tonight, which means John Tavares will center the top line for Toronto and will be the focal point of the offense. Tavares was largely quiet on Wednesday, but will be counted on tonight to help the Leafs offense get going again. He’ll skate with a pair of dangerous wingers too. He’s worth keeping an eye on in this one.

The Lines:

With Neal returning, the Oilers will need to shuffle the roster a bit. Chiasson will come out of the lineup for Neal, while Joakim Nygard is also expected to come out. With Neal coming off the IR, the expectation is that Nygard will be shifted to the taxi squad. Tyler Ennis is expected to draw back in for Nygard. Defensively, Caleb Jones and William Lagesson will again be in the pressbox.

Edmonton Oilers Lines:

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Zack Kassian
Dominik Kahun – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Tyler Ennis – Kyle Turris – Jesse Puljujarvi
James Neal – Devin Shore – Josh Archibald

Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Kris Russell – Tyson Barrie
Slater Koekkoek – Adam Larsson

Mikko Koskinen

The Maple Leafs will be without two of their top-six forwards tonight. Joe Thornton will miss at least four weeks with a fractured rib he suffered on Wednesday night, while Matthews is also out and day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The Leafs will also return to a 12 F, 6 D setup after going 11 F and 7 D on Wednesday.

Toronto Maple Leafs Lines:

Zach Hyman – John Tavares – William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev – Alexander Kerfoot – Mitch Marner
Jimmy Vesey – Jason Spezza – Wayne Simmonds
Alexander Barabanov – Adam Brooks – Pierre Engvall

Morgan Rielly – TJ Brodie
Jake Muzzin – Justin Holl
Travis Dermott – Zach Bogosian

Frederik Andersen

Game Notes:

“Those hockey games that are tight like that are closer to playoff-style games than they are the 8-7 games,” Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett said following Wednesday night’s 3-1 victory in Toronto. “I’ll take 2-1 games all day as long as we’re winning.”

Devin Shore was an afterthought when training camp opened, the lone forward on a PTO, but he’s earned himself a spot in the lineup. Shore has beaten out Jujhar Khaira for the fourth line center job, and has also replaced Khaira on the penalty kill. Shore is tied for 3rd in the NHL this season with five takeaways, and is 2nd in takeaways per 60 with 7.37.

Although the powerplay isn’t yet clicking for the Oilers, the penalty kill is. Edmonton sits tied for 9th in the NHL with a kill rate of 87.5% when shorthanded. They have one shorthanded goal on the season (Shore), and killed off both Maple Leafs powerplays on Wednesday night.

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