OILERS (7-2-0) at MAPLE LEAFS (2-4-3)
It’s a Sunday that the Toronto Maple Leafs would like to forget.
The Leafs are coming off a 5-1 loss to the New York Islanders and are set to take on Connor McDavid and the Pacific Division leading Edmonton Oilers tonight.
With a surprising close game on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens, the Leafs lost 2-1 thanks to a Shea Weber slap shot in the third period and Carey Price being Carey Price. Going into Brooklyn, New York, it seemed that the Leafs should’ve been prepared against the Islanders, after giving the Atlantic Division leading Habs a good run.
However, they were slow coming out of the gate, being down 2-0 at the end of the first period. It stayed that way until Jake Gardiner got the Leafs on the board 50 seconds into the third. And then came the collapse, where the Islanders scored three straight by Shane Prince, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey.
It was a loss that was deserving of a loss. Head coach, Mike Babcock didn’t sugarcoat anything saying that this game was “on us.” The Leafs managed to only score two goals in two games.
It seemed that fatigue plagued the young squad. They weren’t fully prepared to play on back-to-back nights.
One of the Leafs top rookies, William Nylander added an assist on Gardiner’s goal taking over the team lead in points with 11.
The Edmonton Oilers are coming off a shutout loss to the Ottawa Senators with an emotional Craig Anderson in net, after his wife Nicholle was diagnosed with cancer.
Although he was credited with his second loss of the season, Cam Talbot had a stellar performance in net stopping 20 of 21 shots he faced.
Aside from McDavid, Talbot is one of the players that should be recognized for the Oilers hot start to the season. He has played in all nine games, going 7-2-0 while posting a .936 save percentage and allowing 2.05 goals against per game.
The Oilers wouldn’t be where they are at this point if it weren’t for the great start and goaltending by Talbot. Who knows how long this will last, but for the time being, the Oilers are enjoying their time at the top of the Pacific Division.
The Leafs on the other hand, need to bounce back quickly against a lethal Oilers offense. The skill of Auston Matthews, Nylander and Mitch Marner, need to match that of McDavid, Jordan Eberle and Milan Lucic.
It wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the headliner, the battle of the last two first overall picks, Matthews vs. McDavid. The last time these two young phenoms played was on a line during the World Cup of Hockey. Even then, we witnessed these two accomplish great things for a young and entertaining Team North America. But now, they’re against each other, possibly creating the next best rivalry in the NHL. It was an entertaining battle between Matthews and Patrick Laine, and we should expect another great matchup between these two young talented centres.
Frederik Andersen will look to be back between the pipes. Andersen stopped 29 of 31 shots on Saturday. After a strong game that was ended by one of the hardest shots in the game, Andersen’s confidence should only be rising now that he almost out-dueled one of the best goalies in the game.
Projected Line Combinations
Toronto Maple Leafs
Hyman — Matthews — Nylander
van Riemsdyk — Bozak — Marner
Brown — Kadri — Komarov
Martin — Smith — Soshnikov
Rielly — Zaitsev
Marincin — Carrick
Gardiner — Polak
Lucic — McDavid — Eberle
Maroon — Draisaitl — Puljujarvi
Pouliot — Nugent-Hopkins — Kassian
Lander — Letestu — Pitlick
Klefbom — Larsson
Sekera — Russell
Nurse — Gryba