Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Looking to Strike Oil Against the Edmonton Oilers


Toronto Maple Leafs Game Preview: Looking to Strike Oil Against the Edmonton Oilers

We have all waited patiently and now it is time to drop the puck on a new season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Here at the Tip of the Tower we strive to give you as much content on your Toronto sports teams as humanly possible. This series will preview every single Toronto Maple Leafs game and what you should know for the game that night.

Oct 12, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz (19) battles with Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Joffrey Lupul (19) during the second period in a game at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers (14-29-9) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (22-27-4), 7:00 p.m., CBC

This is the Leafs first game against the Oilers this season.

More from Tip of the Tower

Leafs Injury Report

Dion Phaneuf is questionable with a hand injury

Projected Line Combinations (Leafs)

Oilers Injury Report

Benoit Pouliot is questionable with a foot injury

Taylor Hall is out with a leg injury

Nikita Nikitin is out with a shoulder injury

Projected Line Combinations (Oilers)

Game Preview

Feb 6, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) makes a save while being hit by New Jersey Devils left wing Mike Cammalleri (23) during the third period at Prudential Center. The Devils defeated the Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

It is hard to be positive with the Leafs setting a franchise high 11 game losing streak. Luckily for Toronto, going up against the Oilers tonight might give them their best chance for a win. While Edmonton does not look as bad as they were to start the season (they actually have four wins against the Western Conference) they are still one of the worst teams in the NHL behind the Buffalo Sabres, and in a position to pick in the top five once again (most likely top two).

Jan 3, 2015; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mike Santorelli (25) gets high fives for his goal against the Winnipeg Jets in the second period at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Shawn Coates-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs look like they lack confidence, which is no surprise given how fragile the team is right now. Some players know they have not done their part in pulling it together. However, the worse part is that the players who have tried to pull this team together (Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli and Daniel Winnik) will most likely be traded. This is what some players and coach Peter Horachek had to say after Friday’s loss to the New Jersey Devils.

Clearly the players are being pushed to their breaking point so it comes down to management to try and make some changes. Last night it was announced that the Leafs traded Carter Ashton and David Broll for a seventh round draft pick. The Leafs were at the limit of 50 contracts, but by trading two away for nothing, they clear up room for more contracts to be added. What this means is still uncertain, but something is most likely going to be happening soon.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Oct 29, 2013; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazen Kadri (43) deflects in a shot against Edmonton Oilers goaltender Richard Bachman (30) during the third period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Kessel career vs EDM: 10 GP- 8 goals – 7 assist – 15 PTS

James van Riemsdyk career vs EDM:5 GP- 3 goals- 1 assists- 4 PTS

Nazem Kadri career vs EDM: 4 GP- 2 goals- 3 assists- 5 PTS

Tyler Bozak career vs EDM: 6 GP- 2 goals- 4 assists- 6 PTS

Jonathan Bernier career vs DAL: 3 GP-“ Record: 3-0, 2.32 GAA €“ .921 SV%

James Reimer career vs NJ:8 GP- Record: 3-0, 1.99 GAA- .943 SV%

Edmonton Oilers

Oct 29, 2013; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers Forward Jordan Eberle (14) gets a shot away in front of Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (44) at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Eberle career vs TOR:6 GP- 6 goals- 3 assists- 9 PTS

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins career vs TOR: 3 GP- 1 goal- 0 assists- 1 PTS

Derek Roy career vs TOR: 49 GP- 21 goals- 16 assists- 37 PTS

Viktor Fasth (no games against Toronto) record this season: 21 GP- Record: 5-12-2, 3.25 GAA- .892 SV%

Ben Scrivens career vs TOR (no games against Toronto) record this season: 37 GP- Record: 9-17-7, 3.05 GAA- .894 SV%

Keys to Victory

While the team is playing better according to the advanced statistics, it shows the limits of using advanced statistics as a way to analyze a team’s performance. It is a useful tool but in the end there is more that goes into evaluating a team’s performance.

What it comes down to are the defensive mistakes that the Leafs have been making all season long that the goaltenders cannot keep bailing them out on. The Leafs cycle game is not their strong suit because they prefer to score off the rush. This was something Randy Carlyle tried to fix, but it did not sink in.

Dec 31, 2014; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens (30) reacts as Calgary Flames center Josh Jooris (86) scores the winning-goal during the overtime period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won in overtime 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Against the Oilers, the Leafs have a great opportunity to get a win. Edmonton’s goaltending is nowhere close to be a formidable force in the NHL. The Leafs ran into a hot goalie in Cory Schneider last night and they got robbed by Carter Hutton the other night, so they finally have a chance to get the offence going. This can only happen if the top six forwards are willing to step up and, as Reimer said, “play with passion”. I mean that is what they are being payed millions of dollars to do.

Jan 15, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle (14) passes the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers will be without Hall and Pouliot, but Eberle has been doing his part to try and carry this young team. If the Leafs can keep him off the scoresheet, then they have a good chance to come away with the win.

Dec 23, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk (21) and center Mike Santorelli (25) celebrate Santorelli

It has been a while since I made a prediction, but I will go out on a limb and say this has to be the Leafs night to get a win. Not because of how bad everything has gone for them, but because they have an easier opponent. The most important thing is that the Leafs try to get engaged early in the game, but the Oilers are no defensive juggernaut so it could also be a game with a lot of offence.