The Edmonton Oilers played one of their worst games of the season on Saturday night, dropping a 4-0 decision against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. The Oilers never truly threatened in that game, and were outworked at every level. That is going to happen to just about every team during the course of the season.
Tonight, the Oilers get a shot at revenge as they take on the Maple Leafs in the second of a three game miniseries at Rogers Place. It is the sixth of nine meetings this season between the sides, who will play again on Wednesday night. The Oilers are 2-3-0 in the series thus far.
Michael Hutchinson gets the nod in net for the Maple Leafs, while Mikko Koskinen gets the start for the Oilers.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Create some pressure in the offensive zone. The Oilers had few chances on Saturday night, and never really got any sustained pressure. As a result, the Oilers failed to draw a penalty. Edmonton needs to attack the offensive zone with more speed through the neutral zone, and they need to make quicker decisions to keep Toronto’s defense on its heels.
Toronto: Clog the neutral zone. For a team that isn’t supposed to be good on defense, the Maple Leafs have done a good job all season long of clogging things up in the neutral zone and creating issues for the opposition. Saturday was no different. They frustrated the Oilers and caused numerous turnovers that resulted in chances the other way. If they can do that again tonight, the division lead will only increase.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Is Leon Draisaitl hurt? The German superstar has been slower and less dynamic over the last two weeks, and he’s also missed practice time. It goes without saying, but Draisaitl is such a big part of what the Oilers do and not having him at 100% really hurts the team and their ability to win hockey games. They need Draisaitl going, and he’s openly said he needs to be better than he was on Saturday. Usually, when he says that he backs it up.
Toronto: Justin Holl is quickly becoming an enemy in Northern Alberta. Holl has done a terrific job this season at slowing Connor McDavid down, and Saturday night was no exception. Holl’s speed, Hockey IQ and skill make him a strong option for top-four work in today’s game. His defensive play has shone in a big way during this season series, and he’ll be counted on again tonight.
Kris Russell skated late today and is expected to be a healthy scratch as Evan Bouchard returns to the lineup. James Neal and Kyle Turris are both close, but neither is expected to be in the lineup tonight. Patrick Russell is expected to play his third game since being recalled last week.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Dominik Kahun – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Tyler Ennis – Jujhar Khaira – Josh Archibald
Patrick Russell – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
Caleb Jones – Adam Larsson
Evan Bouchard – Ethan Bear
Auston Matthews is getting closer, but the superstar forward is still day-to-day with a wrist injury and got extra work after practice on Monday. He is not expected to play tonight. Wayne Simmonds remains on IR with a wrist injury of his own, while Frederik Andersen remains out with a lower body injury.
Toronto Maple Leafs Lines:
Joe Thornton – John Tavares – Mitch Marner
Alexander Barabanov – Alexander Kerfoot – William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev – Pierre Engvall – Zach Hyman
Nic Petan – Travis Boyd – Jason Spezza
Morgan Rielly – TJ Brodie
Jake Muzzin – Justin Holl
Travis Dermott – Zach Bogosian
“In the series format, when you lose Game 1, Game 2 becomes really important,” McDavid said earlier on Monday. “I think our desperation level goes up. We’ve been alright in games coming off of losses. We’re hoping for the same effort tonight.” The Oilers, currently 14-9-0, are 6-2-0 when coming off of a loss this season.
The Oilers made a move on Monday morning, claiming veteran goalie Alex Stalock off of waivers from the Minnesota Wild. Stalock has not yet played this season due to injury, and must now quarantine for two weeks prior to joining the team. He was 20-11-4 with a .910 save percentage for the Wild a season ago.
Edmonton’s special teams was a negative on Saturday night. In addition to failing to get a powerplay, they surrendered a goal against on the lone penalty they took all game. The penalty kill is struggling, killing off just 77.5% of penalties taken this season. That’s good for 20th best in the NHL. The powerplay, meanwhile, is clicking at a 27.2% success rate. That’s good for 7th in the NHL.