The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers play the middle game of a three-game set tonight in Edmonton.
On Saturday, the Leafs put in a pristine effort as two first-period tallies was more than enough as Jack Campbell earned his third career shutout and first with the Maple Leafs, turning aside all 30 shots he faced in that one. However, it was a total team effort as the Leafs held Connor McDavid to just one shot and a minus-three on the night, silencing fellow superstar Leon Draisatil as well.
We’ll see what the Leafs can do for an encore in this one and whether or not McDavid and co. can back on track in this Maple Leafs vs. Oilers NHL Pick from Rogers Place in Edmonton!
|Maple Leafs (-110)||-1.5 (+213)||Over 6.5 (-106)|
|Oilers (+100)||+1.5 (-253)||Under 6.5 (-104)|
It was a nice offensive bounce back effort from the Maple Leafs on Saturday after scuffling across their previous outings.
The Leafs broke out for four goals in that one after scoring just two across their last two games and just one in regulation time during that stretch. They also scored on their lone power play opportunity after failing to score over their previous 12 opportunities.
Matthews is no doubt a major kog in the Leafs’ second-ranked overall offense that has averaged 3.55 goals per game on the season with a 32.4% power play clip that sits second league wide as well.
The defensive effort was more surprising as they held McDavid to his worst stat line in some time. The Maple Leafs much-maligned defense has been far better this season with newcomers T.J. Brodie and Zach Bogosian solidifying the right side of that blueline, one that’s helped power the Leafs to a sixth-ranked 2.50 goals against per game on the season.
That said, the Leafs are probably playing above their heads defensively this season. Despite sitting sixth in the league on the surface, the Leafs rank 23rd in scoring chances against/60, 21st in high-danger chances against/60 and 21st in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 this season, according to Natural Stat Trick. Their 1.93 goals against/60 at 5v5 sits below their 2.25 expected mark.
Something to keep an eye on heading into this one if the Maple Leafs’ goaltending situation. Campbell’s shutout on Saturday was his first start since Jan. 24 when he suffered a lower-body injury in Calgary, and it’s unclear if the team will give him an extra couple days to rest as a result.
No. 1 netminder Frederik Andersen has missed the team’s last three games with a lower-body injury himself, and while he’s been a full participant in practise, no announcement has been made on his official status as of yet.
Michael Hutchinson started the team’s two-game set with the Calgary Flames last week and is available for this one should both Andersen and Campbell need additional time.
The Leafs have received some quality goaltending regardless of who has been in goal as they sit third with a .933 Sv% at 5v5 while their .840 mark on high-danger scoring chances sits eighth, a key reason as to why they have surrendered fewer goals than expected at even strength this season.
The Oilers were rolling into Saturday’s matchup with Toronto, winning 11 of their last 13 games, eight of their last nine and five in a row before being cooled off with authority.
Interestingly, the Oilers didn’t get a power play opportunity on Saturday as just one penalty was called all game, but let’s also keep in mind this group led the NHL with a 29.5% clip a season ago, so it clearly remains one of the best in the business.
The team’s main struggles have been on the blueline. Without No. 1 defenseman Oscar Klefbom for the season, the Oilers have scuffled to 22nd with 3.00 goals against per game on the season, but that’s largely due to some fantastic goaltending of late.
At 5v5, the Oilers rank 27th in scoring chances against/60, 22nd in high-danger chances against/60 and 26th in expected goals against/60 this season. Their 2.33 actual goals against/60 at 5v5 is above their 2.18 expected mark, but this has been one of the weaker back ends in the NHL this season.
Still, they had allowed two goals or fewer in four of their previous five before Saturday, so it’s been an improved group of late.
I noted that the Oilers have been the recipients of some excellent goaltending of late, and much of that has been the work of 38-year-old Mike Smith who owns a 2.04 GAA and .934 SV% on the season, but after he too was cooled off on Saturday, it looks like it will be Mikko Koskinen getting the nod tonight.
Koskinen was leaned on more than any other netminder in the NHL before Smith returned to action on Feb. 8, nearly a full month into the season. He’ll carry a 3.26 GAA and .901 Sv% in 15 outings on the season into this one, subpar figures to be sure but hard to blame him given the frequency of starts across the first month of a condensed schedule.
He’s made just three starts in three weeks since Smith returned, but has allowed two goals or less in each of those outings and is coming off a 43-save performance (.977 Sv%) in a 7-1 blowout of the rival Flames in Calgary two Saturdays back.
Koskinen has made four starts against the Leafs this season, allowing 11 goals while working to an even .900 Sv% in that time.
It was a Picasso on behalf of the Maple Leafs on Saturday, but you can’t help but feel there is a major wave heading their way courtesy of the Oilers’ big boys tonight.
It’s rare to see both players go pointless on the same night, but it would be aberrant to see both players held in check two games in a row.
The Oilers have had time to digest their loss on Saturday, and I also have a sneaking suspicion that it will be Hutchinson going for the Maple Leafs tonight as the team looks to give their top two netminders additional rest with a six-point lead (and a game in hand) over the Oilers in the North Division. Keep in mind these two teams go back at it 48 hours after tonight’s puck drop.
Of course, it’s not helping the Maple Leafs having Matthews watch from the press box while they’re also dealing with an injury to Wayne Simmonds while grinder Zach Hyman is currently playing through a foot injury.
I believe Edmonton turns the tables tonight and if so, they’ll be doing it at quality value.
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