Preview: Oilers at Maple Leafs
EDMONTON OILERS (31-27-6) at
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (26-26-13)
Start Time: 5:10 p.m. MST
Television: CBC (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Leafs Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
|The Oilers scramble in front of the Leafs net back in November. (photo: Andy Devlin/EOHC)
by Marc Ciampa | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
The Edmonton Oilers look to get back in the playoff picture tonight when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Edmonton currently sits in a tie for ninth place in the Western Conference with the Anaheim Ducks though they hold two games in hand.
They are two points behind Nashville, Columbus and Dallas who are all tied for sixth spot. The Oilers hold a game in hand on each of those teams so the importance of tonight's game can't be underestimated.
The Oilers have had some struggles of late with only two wins in their last eight. Their last game, they fell 4-2 to the Ottawa Senators.
Toronto is trying to get itself back in the playoff picture. They are currently nine points back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after having gone without a regulation loss in eight straight games (5-0-3). They have also picked up two points in five of six (5-0-1) including their last game - a 2-1 win over Washington.
This is the second of two meetings this season between Edmonton and Toronto. The Leafs won 5-2 back on November 13 at Rexall Place.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH: Sam Gagner
has really picked up his play in the last little while. He has three goals and five points in his last two games... Tom Gilbert
has three points in his last three games after going without a point in four straight. Prior to that, Gilbert had a stretch where he had 16 points in 16 games... Ales Kotalik has two assists in four games against the Leafs this season. He has six goals and 21 points in 32 career games against his former Northeast Division rival to lead all Oilers in that category. Sheldon Souray
has six goals 13 points in 33 games.
MAPLE LEAFS TO WATCH:
Goaltender Martin Gerber, picked up off re-entry waivers from Ottawa on the trade deadline, had an impressive debut for the Leafs. He made 37 saves in a 2-1 win over Washington and will get the start again tonight... Jason Blake is Toronto's leading scorer with 22 goals and 51 points this season... Pavel Kubina leads Leafs defencemen with 13 goals and 38 points.
Edmonton—Ethan Moreau (eye) is out. Lubomir Visnovsky (torn labrum) is out. Toronto—Vesa Toskala (hip) is out.
The Maple Leafs have won three straight and five of six against the Oilers. Last time the teams met in Toronto, the Leafs won 4-3 back on Feb. 17, 2007... Edmonton is in danger of losing five straight road games for the first time since that 96-97 season. They lost nine straight away from home Feb. 25-April 5, 2007. The Leafs were part of the five-way deal that saw Ales Kotalik and Patrick O'Sullivan arrive in Edmonton. The second round pick which the Oilers acquired from Carolina along with O'Sullivan for Erik Cole was moved to Buffalo for Kotalik. The Sabres then moved that pick to Toronto for Dominic Moore.
The Other Side - news from mapleleafs.com
- Red Hot Leafs host Oilers tonight - The Maple Leafs have recorded at least a point in eight straight games and will try for their sixth win in seven when they host the Edmonton Oilers TONIGHT (7 p.m., CBC, AM640). The Leafs downed the Oilers 5-2 in Edmonton on Nov. 13. ...more
- On the ground in Afghanistan - A delegation of Leafs Alumni is in Kandahar, Afghanistan to boost morale of Canada's troops. Check out the Team Canada Blog from Afghanistan as it was a bitter sweet day on Wednesday as they had some laughs but shed some tears. Photos ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Get to know Strudwick and Stortini - In this edition of The Link, we attend the Hockey Camp for Kids with Jason Strudwick and Zack Stortini. We also sit the two Oilers down and get to know them a little better. ...more
- Oilers, Flames make biggest moves - The big winners on deadline day were based in Alberta. Calgary added Olli Jokinen and also picked up defenceman Jordan Leopold. Meanwhile, Edmonton unloaded Erik Cole and added Ales Kotalik and Patrick O'Sullivan. ...more
- 5 Questions with Sam Gagner - Broken bones, breakfast, and sun-belt destinations were among the topics we recently discussed with Sam Gagner. Click to check out his answers. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
If the Edmonton Oilers aren't careful, they could quickly fall out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. The Toronto Maple Leafs are doing their best to climb into contention in the East.
Edmonton looks to avoid losing five in a row on the road for the first time in nearly two years Saturday night when it meets a Toronto team playing some of its best hockey of the season.
The Oilers (31-27-6) are among a handful of teams vying for the last few playoff spots in the West, but they are struggling of late.
Edmonton has dropped the first two on its four-game road trip and is on the verge of losing five straight away from home for the first time since a nine-game skid from Feb. 25-April 5, 2007.
The Oilers fell to 2-4-2 in their last eight overall Thursday night, losing 4-2 to Ottawa. Edmonton allowed a goal 12 seconds into the game and was down 3-0 just 6:06 into the second period.
"It was a very puzzling and disappointing game - it's the time for introspection for them," coach Craig MacTavish said. "You have the expectation of a certain amount of intensity when you play a game like this, in the situation that we're in, and we go out and we mangle it."
Sam Gagner scored twice for Edmonton, which has allowed 10 goals in the first two games of the trip.
"When you have a certain percentage of your defensemen that play the way they did tonight, you can't win at this level," MacTavish said after Thursday's game. "You've got to have reliability first and playmaking ability second, and we fell short on both of those areas on a high percentage of our back end."
Edmonton will be looking to get back on track against a Toronto club that has earned at least one point in a season-high eight straight games (5-0-3). The Maple Leafs (26-26-13) won 2-1 at Southeast Division-leading Washington on Thursday night behind new acquisition Martin Gerber.
The 34-year-old Gerber made 37 saves in his Maple Leafs debut after being picked up Wednesday off re-entry waivers from the Senators. Toronto acquired him on the same day Vesa Toskala, 7-0-4 since the All-Star break, announced he would need season-ending hip surgery.
"I was a little nervous and emotional to come back and play a game here tonight," Gerber said. "I tried to keep it simple. The guys did a great job to bounce bodies away from the net and let me see the puck.
"It's just fun to be back on the ice and actually win a game. You're so pumped to be back and get another shot."
Toronto is in 11th place in the East, nine points behind the final playoff spot.
"Our guys have been competing really hard and feel good about themselves," coach Ron Wilson said. "We'll just keep on going and see what we can do."
The Maple Leafs have won three straight and five of six against the Oilers, including 5-2 in Edmonton on Nov. 13. This will be the teams' first meeting in Toronto since a 4-3 Leafs win Feb. 17, 2007.