The Edmonton Oilers saw their five game winning streak snap on Saturday night when they turned in one of their worst performances of the season. The Toronto Maple Leafs walked in, without their starting goalie and best player, and came out with an easy 4-0 victory. Tonight, the Oilers get a chance at revenge.
They know they’ll need to be harder to play against. They know they’ll need more pressure in the offensive zone. They know, quite frankly, that they need more “drive” in their game.
“We need to have more drive. They came in, they played their game plan and we didn’t do ours. We didn’t execute very well,” Josh Archibald said on Sunday. “We gave them too many opportunities and when we had ours, we didn’t capitalize on them. We just got to bring more of that tomorrow.”
One issue over the years with the Oilers has been the team’s tendency to ride the momentum, for better or for worse. Too often, a bad loss will lead to four or five losses in a row. That cannot happen in a tightly-contested North Division. Not if the Oilers want to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
Archibald, who has been around the league for years, understands that.
“There’s an old saying, ‘Not too high, not too low.’ I think we got to look at that,” he continued. “We had a good stretch of games but at the same time, when you have a game like we did last night, you got to have a short memory, forget about it and move on. You take some things from it but at the same time, have a short memory and move on.”
A strong effort and more attention to detail will certainly give the Oilers a better chance to win tonight, but that alone won’t be enough. For the first time this season, the Oilers didn’t get a single chance on the powerplay on Saturday night. It wasn’t that the officials were missing things, Edmonton just couldn’t earn a powerplay.
It’s something they are looking to remedy in the second game of this miniseries.
“I think O-zone time,” Tyson Barrie said when asked how his team could get on the skater advantage tonight. “You get them hemmed in and you’re spending some time kind of rolling around in their end getting them tired. It usually leads to them making a mistake or taking a penalty. Maybe playing with a little more speed through the neutral zone. They did a good job in the neutral zone but maybe making some quicker plays up and catching them flat-footed might draw them into something. At the end of the day, you can’t control what the refs are going to do. You just got to focus on playing a really solid game and hopefully the calls come.”