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GAME PREVIEW: Edmonton Oilers @ Toronto Maple Leafs

Who’s down the middle? Who’s in goal? This is not my beautiful house.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers (18-13-2), 4th, Pacific

Toronto Maple Leafs (21-8-2, 3rd, Atlantic)

5 January 2022

Scotiabank Arena

5 PM MT

TV: Sportsnet

Radio: 630 CHED

SB Nation Opponent: Pension Plan Puppets

WHEN IT RAINS

The Oilers are about to close their five game road trip tonight. They’d love a win, as they haven’t had one in their last four games (0-2-2). Their latest installment was a 4-1 loss at Madison Square Garden to the New York Rangers. A poor play by Mikko Koskinen got the Rangers on the board early, the Oilers couldn’t respond other than a goal by Ryan McLeod. The goaltending is rough, the Oilers aren’t scoring enough goals, and it’s been an especially bad stretch of Oilers hockey as of late.

Edmonton will look to put the brakes on their four game skid with a visit to Toronto tonight. Can the Oilers put the brakes on their skid?

Let’s go to the tape.

THE LEAFS ARE SAYING

“It was an impressive game from the boys in front of me tonight...They were playing super fast, and doing everything that our coaches had talked about. It was a fun time out there and great to be back. The boys were awesome, and it speaks volumes about us. Ottawa had been playing well and are skilled offensively. When you hold them to 23 shots and not a lot of great looks, it’s a credit to the boys in front of me.”

Source

That’s Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell after his club’s 6-0 shutout of the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

Campbell’s 23 saves earned him his fourth shutout of the year and a scintillating .939 SV%. All things are rolling in the right direction for Jack Campbell. Campbell’s shutout was also Toronto’s third win in a row.

Tonight is Toronto’s first game since their 6-0 win over the Senators back on New Year’s Day. The game originally scheduled for Monday against Carolina was postponed. Will four days off for the Leafs be a disadvantage?

THE OILERS ARE SAYING

“Our goaltending wasn’t very good, and we didn’t get enough pucks to the net to get back in the game...”

“It’s a brutal mistake...What are you going to do? Call it what it is. We’re playing well, and it’s a brutal mistake.”

Source

That’s Oilers head coach Dave Tippett after his club’s 4-1 loss to the Rangers on Monday night.

It was a bad outing for Koskinen, but this isn’t the way you want to go about voicing your displeasure. The Oilers aren’t scoring enough goals, and he surely didn’t take a strip off Mike Smith when Smith yielded a six pack in New Jersey.

Ken Holland doesn’t fire his coaches mid-season, but the temperature has got to be getting hot around the collar. The Oilers are 0-8-2 in their last 10 when Dave Tippett is behind the bench.

HAVE SOME OF THIS

  • Connor McDavid will not dress for tonight’s contest after testing positive for Covid yesterday. The silver lining is that the Oilers are off until Monday after tonight. It’s early to say that McDavid could be back in the lineup that quickly, but the Oilers can use the time off.
  • Mike Smith was back in practice yesterday (as was Zack Kassian). Smith had missed the last two games after sustaining a lower body injury in Edmonton’s 6-5 OTL to the Devils on Friday, he might be in net again as soon as tonight.
  • We know that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out, now add McDavid and Derek Ryan (also Covid protocol) to the mix. Tyson Barrie is also in protocol. Tonight’s middle is going to be interesting. Leon Draisaitl will be up top, but the next three lines will likely be quite, uh, “creative”. Odds on Devin Shore making it back to the top six tonight?
  • The goaltending is struggling, and that’s not a secret. Ken Holland could go get a goaltender, something he hasn’t done in the 974 days he’s been Oilers general manager. While a better goaltender might spruce things up in the interim, the club isn’t scoring very many goals. During Tippett’s 0-8-2 run, the Oilers have put up just 19 goals, or an average of 1.9 per game. That’s worse than Arizona’s 2.06 average on the season. Better goaltending will help, but scoring less than 2 goals isn’t going to win you very many hockey games.
  • The Leafs are doing two things that the Oilers are not doing right now: scoring goals and stopping pucks. The Leafs are ranked 8th in goals scored, and the Oilers are ranked 9th in goals scored per game. The Leafs have scored 47 goals in their last ten games. I don’t expect the Oilers to score nearly five goals a game, but a lot of their problems would go away if they did.
  • Auston Matthews was originally thought to be out of tonight’s game for the Leafs after testing positive on a rapid test. He has since tested negative on a PCR test, and may appear for the Leafs tonight. Ondrej Kase is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
  • Oilers will return to Edmonton after tonight’s game, where hopefully we’ll find out a bit more about RNH’s injury.