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Leafs hope to keep Alberta hot streak alive tonight in Edmonton

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Photo credit:Nick Barden
Filipe Dimas
1 year ago
Following back-to-back wins against the Flames in the Saddledome, the Leafs find themselves travelling North for another two-game series at Rogers Place in Edmonton. The two franchises have already matched up twice against each other in this speed run of a season taking a game apiece and will now each be looking to take the season series lead against one another.
Hockey fans everywhere were surprised at just how underwhelming the first two games between Toronto and Edmonton were, especially with two squads that have been built around offensive firepower. That trend should look to break sooner rather than later however as each team has not only shown they can put up goals on command, but have also had growing concerns in net with injuries sidelining the backup goalies while their starters have looked inconsistent. To rub salt in the wounds, the two franchises have each also lost third-string goalies to waivers, an especially troublesome reality as Leafs and Oilers goalies have both put up season save percentages below .900.
For Toronto, the powerplay has been the driving force behind their early-season success. Converting at a staggering 41.7%, they’ll look to build off that trend against an Edmonton penalty kill that is currently ranked 20th in the league. Both teams have had their share of struggles at even strength and in a season that began without proper training camps, every franchise has found themselves learning on the go and trying to work out the kinks as the season plays on.
It’s still early, but we’re already seeing a bit of a separation between teams in the North division as Toronto, Montreal, and Winnipeg seem to be steadily distancing themselves from the pack. Edmonton will be desperate to show that they aren’t about to waste another year of Connor McDavid and can be expected to play with a near playoff-like intensity as they try to close ground and avoid spending the season playing catchup. For Toronto, the question will be whether they can keep this hot streak that has found them sitting atop the division alive, or if complacency will be what brings the team back down to earth.
Lineups
LWCRW

ZACH HYMAN
Rating: 74.6#33 LW

AUSTON MATTHEWS
Rating: 82.3#6 C

MITCH MARNER
Rating: 76.6#18 RW

ILYA MIKHEYEV
Rating: 74.0#42 LW

JOHN TAVARES
Rating: 77.6#15 C

WILLIAM NYLANDER
Rating: 76.1#23 RW

JIMMY VESEY
Rating: 70.6#107 LW

ALEXANDER KERFOOT
Rating: 70.8#113 C

WAYNE SIMMONDS
Rating: 70.2#112 RW

JOEY ANDERSON
Rating: 70.3#110 LW

TRAVIS BOYD
Rating: 70.4#124 C

PIERRE ENGVALL
Rating: 71.0#98 RW
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

MORGAN RIELLY
Rating: 75.3#14 LD

T.J. BRODIE
Rating: 74.2#27 RD

JAKE MUZZIN
Rating: 75.1#17 LD

JUSTIN HOLL
Rating: 72.0#61 RD

MIKKO LEHTONEN

ZACH BOGOSIAN
Rating: 71.4#76 RD
LWCRW

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS
Rating: 77.4#11 LW

CONNOR MCDAVID
Rating: 82.7#5 C

JESSE PULJUJARVI

DOMINIK KAHUN
Rating: 72.5#69 LW

LEON DRAISAITL
Rating: 86.1#1 C

KAILER YAMAMOTO
Rating: 73.5#47 RW

JAMES NEAL
Rating: 71.7#82 LW

KYLE TURRIS
Rating: 71.6#99 C

ZACK KASSIAN
Rating: 71.2#94 RW

JOSH ARCHIBALD
Rating: 71.2#95 LW

JUJHAR KHAIRA
Rating: 69.1#152 C

PATRICK RUSSELL
Rating: 70.0#116 RW
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

DARNELL NURSE
Rating: 74.1#30 LD

ETHAN BEAR
Rating: 71.8#66 RD

KRIS RUSSELL
Rating: 70.1#115 LD

TYSON BARRIE
Rating: 75.3#21 RD

CALEB JONES
Rating: 71.0#14 LD

ADAM LARSSON
Rating: 71.1#88 RD
 
Who to watch for the Leafs: Frederik Andersen
In two starts Jack Campbell has shown he has the potential to become the starting goalie if necessary. With Andersen’s recent struggles this has caused a bit of a goalie controversy in Toronto, especially since the Danish netminder currently finds himself in a contract year. Jack Campbell’s recent injury means the team is going to be leaning heavily on Andersen in the next few weeks and he needs to take it as an opportunity to prove the starting netminder job belongs to him. The next week or so could very well determine whether or not Freddie is back in the blue and white next year or if he loses his starting position before the season is even over. Expect him to come up with extra motivation in an attempt to silence the critics.
Who to watch for the Oilers: Jesse Puljujarvi
The often criticized winger has found himself moved up to the first line in an opportunity to prove he belongs in the NHL. It’s already been a hectic week for the 2016 NHL draft class and Puljujarvi undoubtedly is hoping to prove that Winnipeg and Columbus both made a mistake by passing on him. After looking impressive during his time in Finland last year, the former fourth overall pick has yet to score a goal this season. If playing alongside Connor McDavid doesn’t end with him finding the scoresheet, it won’t be long before Edmonton’s management team also gives up on the young forward.
Leafs Starting Goaltender: Frederik Andersen
As mentioned, Andersen is all that stands between the Leafs and the return of Michael Hutchinson. He’ll need to be good as his starter’s job and future earnings depend on it.
Oilers Starting Goaltender: Mikko Koskinen
It will be the ninth straight start for Koskinen and one has to wonder if fatigue is starting to catch up after allowing three or more goals in each of his past three starts. At this moment, the Oilers quite literally do not have a backup plan so Koskinen will be expected to carry the workload in ways that we haven’t seen since the days of Brodeur making 78 starts in a season.
Puck drop is set for 10pm EST on TSN4 and Sportsnet West.

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