Edmonton Oilers (3-5-0, 5th in North) vs.
Toronto Maple Leafs (6-2-0, 1st in North)
28 January 2021
8 PM MST
TV: Sportsnet West
Radio: 630 CHED
SB Nation Opponent: Pension Plan Puppets
A DISASTROUS THIRD
The Oilers took a slim 3-2 margin into the third period of Wednesday’s game in Winnipeg. It did not end well. Winnipeg scored three times in less than four minutes to take a slim lead and turn it into a full blown panic. Connor McDavid scored a beautiful goal with a couple minutes left in the third to pull within one, but the Oilers tossed their third line out on the ice and never really had a chance. An empty netter was added for the Jets, and the Oilers dropped this one 6-4
Back at Rogers Place, the Oilers will host the Maple Leafs for a pair beginning tonight. Can the Oilers tighten up on defence long enough to squeeze two points?
Let’s go to the tape.
THE OILERS ARE SAYING
“We just let them have too much time with the puck and they took that one out from underneath us... I think we’ve just got to come together more as a group. We’ve got to put full games together. We’re not quite putting a full 60 minutes”
That’s Oilers forward Josh Archibald after his club’s 6-4 loss to the Jets on Wednesday.
Lots of questions still unanswered about that game. The third line has been getting crushed at almost every opportunity this year. Having Connor McDavid score an absolute stunner of a goal with two minutes remaining in the game only not to take a timeout and roll your third line out after the goal is a head scratcher from this vantage point.
THE MAPLE LEAFS ARE SAYING
It’s good character to battle these games out and get the two points...We had a chance to take all four [points] today in this little mini-series, and we wanted to do that. It was really nice to see the way we battled until the end and got away with the two points again. … You never want to make it this hard every night, but it’s a good character win.
That’s Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen on his club’s 4-3 victory over Calgary on Tuesday night.
The Maple Leafs are winners of three straight, and currently lead the North Division.
RNH-McDavid-Puljujarvi— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) January 28, 2021
HAVE SOME OF THIS
Oilers problems: 1. The 3rd line run by Turris is getting caved (34% xGF%). Turns out having the worst-performing 3rd line in the league is an issue. This was underpinned by a bet on Turris, who was showing warning signs last season.— Michael Parkatti (@mparkatti) January 27, 2021
- A COACH’S CHALLENGE: A lot of things went wrong for the Oilers in that ugly third period on Wednesday. The one thing I won’t understand (even after hearing Coach Tippett explain it) is: why wouldn’t you call a timeout with 2 minutes left in regulation right after McDavid scored a goal to pull within one AND INSTEAD just put your third line out there that’s been getting dominated at almost every turn? Coach says he didn’t want to give the other team a chance to rest their stars and have them go against Edmonton’s top line. I don’t know about you, but if I can buy Connor McDavid and the rest of the top line a half a minute of fresh air in that circumstance, you gotta go for that, no?
- AMUSE-NUGE: Desperate times call for desperate measures. I might put Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in at 3C. It’s not sexy, and it’s probably not a popular move for Nugent-Hopkins, but Turris is struggling mightily out there right now. Nugent-Hopkins and Kassian might gel a little with James Neal. It will come at the expense of the top line; so here’s hoping McDavid can tether Jesse Puljujärvi and run wild up top if we see this unfold.
- TIME FOR BOUCH?: Coach is trying to find the right mix of defencemen, I don’t think he’s there yet. Slater Koekkoek catching a healthy scratch sort of caught my eye on Tuesday. I also think it’s only a matter of time before we see Evan Bouchard, but Coach says a back ailment made him unavailable last game.
- THE POWER PLAY AWAKENS: The Oilers scored two power play goals in Wednesday’s 6-4 loss, which makes the season numbers look a bit better. Not even gonna look at where it’s at right now. Score two more tonight.
- NET GAINS: Mikko Koskinen is likely to start his ninth consecutive game (3-5-0, .900 SV% / 3.42 GAA). For the Maple Leafs, expect Frederik Andersen (4-2-0, .896 SV% / 2.84 GAA). The Maple Leafs lost Jack Campbell to a leg injury after Matthew Tkachuk fell on him after a stoppage in play, Michael Hutchinson is now number 2 in Toronto.
- THE LEAFS TOP 2: The Oilers did not see Auston Matthews (4-4-8 in 7 GP) in their most recent matchup with Toronto, as he was out with an upper body injury. They’ll see him today likely on a line alongside Mitch Marner (5-7-12 in 8 GP) and Zach Hyman (1-2-3 in 8 GP). The second line with John Tavares (43-7 in 8 GP) William Nylander (2-5-7 in 8 GP) and Ilya Mikhevev (0-1-1 in 8 GP) isn’t terrible either.
- SCRATCHES: The Oilers without Mike Smith (LTIR) and Gaetan Haas is day-to-day. For Toronto, they will miss Joe Thornton (ribs), goalie Jack Campbell (leg) and Nick Robertson (knee)
- WINNING IS IMPORTANT: The Oilers really can’t go 3-6. Calgary is right there with Edmonton in the standings, and they’ve played three less games. Toronto is a tough team, and the Oilers need to keep pace tonight in order to hang out near that fourth place position in the North.