Maple Leafs-Oilers Preview
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (6-6-4) at
EDMONTON OILERS (8-6-1)
Start Time: 7:08 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes
by Nick Conrad | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
Home sweet home.
The Oilers are back at Rexall Place after their epic seven-game sojourn and will play just their fourth home game of the season tonight against the west-side swingin’ Toronto Maple Leafs.
Edmonton went 4-3 on their longest road trip of the season, including wins over three top-ten teams in the league. The Oilers last played at home 17 days ago when they lost to the Bruins in overtime on Oct. 27.
Among some of the positive Oiler storylines that emerged on their east coast swing is the inspired play of rookie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers. All eyes are on the young netminder who has, so far, risen to the challenge with a 1.71 goal against average and a .951 save percentage in three games played.
The Maple Leafs are always under the heavy scrutiny of the Canadian hockey world but never more than this season after the departure of Mats Sundin. They’ve played above the expectations of many hockey pundits but still sit in the middle the pack at .500. They’re coming off a 4-3 loss to Calgary on Tuesday night.
Toronto will be without blueliner, Mike Van Ryn, who suffered a concussion, facial injuries and a broken hand after being crushed face-first into the boards by Montreal’s Tom Kostopoulos.
The Oilers are 38-35-8-1 all time versus Toronto and 23-14-6-1 at home. Edmonton and Toronto last played on February 17, 2007 when the Oilers lost 4-3 at the Air Canada Centre.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH:
Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers has been outstanding in his first three NHL games…Shawn Horcoff
has been less than proficient lately with one assist in his last five games. Look for the home crowd to fire him up…Lubomir Visnovsky has three points in his last two games and is a +5 against Toronto.
MAPLE LEAFS TO WATCH:
Nik Antropov has stepped up his game in the absence of Mats Sundin and leads the Leafs in points with six goals and eight assists…Mikhail Grabovski leads the Leafs—and all NHL rookies—in goals with seven and is third among rookies in points with 11.
Edmonton – Steve MacIntyre
(broken orbital bone) is out. Ladislav Smid
(concussion) is doubtful. Toronto – The Leafs are healthy.
The Oilers return home tonight to open a brief two-game homestand…it is only the fourth home game of the season for the Oilers and their first game at Rexall Place in 17 days…Edmonton’s last home game saw the Oilers drop a 1-0 overtime decision to the Boston Bruins on October 27th…the Oilers have an all-time record of 38-35-8-1 versus Toronto and they are 23-14-6-1 at home…the Oilers and Maple Leafs did not play each other last season, marking only the second time since 1979-80 that the teams did not play at least one game in a season…the last game between the Oilers and Maple Leafs saw Edmonton drop a close 4-3 decision at the Air Canada Centre back on February 17, 2007…former Oilers winger Glenn Anderson became the eighth member of the Edmonton Oilers to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night in Toronto…Anderson joins fellow Oilers Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Glen Sather and Rod Phillips in hockey’s hallowed shrine…speaking of Rod Phillips, the “Voice of the Oilers” returns to the airways tonight after missing the Oilers’ season-high seven-game road trip…Phillips, who began calling Oilers games during their days in the WHA, was sidelined by an inner ear infection that did not permit him to fly…Bob Stauffer, Phillips’ colour commentator and former radio voice of the University of Alberta Golden Bears, filled in for the Hall of Famer…the Oilers conclude their brief homestand on Saturday night as they host the Colorado Avalanche at 8:00 pm…it is the Avalanche’s second visit to Rexall Place this season as the Oilers skated to a 3-2 win in the season opener on October 12th.
Oilers new third jersey now available
- You've seen it on the ice and now it can be yours. The new Oilers Third Jersey is now available exclusively at the Oilers Store in Kingsway Garden Mall and during Oilers and Oil Kings home games at Rexall Place. ...more
The Other Side
Odds and Ends
- Jen's Journal: The Web War - A seven-game road trip is long by any standards. It feels like ages since I’ve been to Rexall Place and even longer since I could enjoy the rink without being overwhelmed by the pungent scent of Eau de Rodeo. ...more
- Tambellini speaks on a variety of topics - On Wednesday, Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini addressed the media on a variety of topics, including the acquisition of Jesse Boulerice. Follow the link or click the play button above to watch the video. ...more
- NHL's Top 10: Three Oilers, Four Plays - For the second consecutive week, two of Ales Hemsky's goals made the NHL's Top 10 list. Joining Hemsky is Steve MacIntyre who had the #1 hit of the week in the NHL and Mathieu Garon whose save also ranked in that category. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
A pair of superb performances by a rookie goaltender got Edmonton back on track during its longest road trip of the season. As the Oilers return home, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers seems likely to be back in net as his team tries for its third straight win.
Edmonton, which has played an NHL-high 12 road games, begins a brief two-game homestand as it faces the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
Consecutive losses last week dropped the Oilers to 2-3-0 on their season-high seven-game trip, but Edmonton (8-6-1) finished the stretch up strong with victories over New Jersey and the New York Rangers. The two straight wins over Atlantic Division contenders were due in large part to Drouin-Deslauriers.
The 24-year-old rookie was outstanding in both contests, making 37 saves in a 2-1 win over the Devils on Sunday and 40 stops to defeat the Rangers 3-2 in a shootout the next day. Drouin-Deslauriers faced 20 shots in the second period of each game and rose to the challenge, turning aside 39 of those 40 total shots.
"Knowing they were the best team in the East was a very good challenge for me," Drouin-Deslauriers, who was making his second and third career starts, said after the victory over New York. "We replied with a good answer and very good energy."
Drouin-Deslauriers made the most of his opportunity in the Oilers' 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh last Thursday, when he replaced struggling veteran Mathieu Garon to start the third period and stopped all 14 shots he faced. That effort earned him the starts in New Jersey and New York.
Edmonton was on the road for two weeks, but won't be home long before heading out again. After hosting Toronto (6-6-4) and Colorado, the Oilers play six of nine away from Rexall Place.
Edmonton doesn't play three straight home games this season until Dec. 11-16, a stretch the Oilers should be looking forward to. Despite playing only three times at Rexall, Edmonton has gained points in each game, going 2-0-1.
"Two games over .500 isn't exceptional by any standard, but when you've played 12 of 15 on the road, we'll take it," coach Craig MacTavish said.
MacTavish's team has played five consecutive one-goal games.
The Oilers will be facing a Maple Leafs club that lost for the fourth time in five games Tuesday, 4-3 at Calgary. The Leafs got goals from Nik Andropov and Matt Stajan in the third period - Stajan's coming with 54 seconds remaining - to cut the deficit to one, but the Flames held on.
The Leafs' Alexei Ponikarovsky opened the scoring at 9:20 of the first before the Flames took control with four straight goals.
"In the second, we couldn't get out of their zone, we had long shifts and we started to get a little tired and had no legs and we came up a little short at the end of the game," defenseman Tomas Kaberle said. "We have to make sure, when we get the lead to play a little bit better defensively and play in their zone instead of our zone."
Toronto had won four of five before this 1-3-1 stretch.
Although the Leafs are struggling, they've taken four of the last five matchups with the Oilers and two in a row. Toronto won 4-3 at home in the most recent meeting Feb. 17.