It’s an understatement to say that this game is near and dear to my heart. As a Leafs fan living in Edmonton this is game that has certainly been circled on my calendar since the schedule has been released and I’m looking forward to proudly walking into work tomorrow wearing my Leafs hoodie and toque and spreading the Gospel of Auston.
It’s also pretty safe to say that this season has been incredibly enjoyable from a Leafs standpoint and hilarious from the standpoint of Oilers detractors. The Leafs have continued where they left off last season and will likely continue improve like vintage champagne for the foreseeable future. The Oilers on the other hand, were predicted by many to be potential cup finalists, and in some cases (Frank Seravalli) Stanley Cup Champions:
EDMONTON – Lord Stanley is coming homeThe Oilers will end Canada’s Stanley Cup drought after 25 long years. Connor McDavid matched Sidney Crosby by winning the Hart and Art Ross in his sophomore season. Along with Leon Draisaitl, his version of Evgeni Malkin, McDavid will one-up Crosby by capturing the Cup in his third season – after Crosby fell short in Game 6 against the Red Wings.
This begs the question, “then what happened?”
Well, the first thing that we discovered is that Leon Draisaitl is more Conor Sheary than Evgeni Malkin, and he seems entirely reliant on McDavid creating offensive opportunities for him. It sure would be embarrassing if the Oilers were paying him $8.5M a season to do what Chris Kunitz was doing for half of that. Milan Lucic, not to be confused with the Serbian war criminal of the same name, has managed just 4 goals this season, and at $6M a year you don’t have to be noted Edmonton capologist Dustin Nielson to know his goals/$ are ungood.
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It’s hard to pin down where everything went wrong for the Oilers, and by hard, I mean incredibly easy. This is entirely Peter Chiarelli’s doing.
Since pushing the Ducks to seven games in the second round of last season’s playoffs, Chiarelli has completed the following transactions:
  • re-signed Kris Russell to four years at $4M
  • re-signed Leon Draisaitl at $8.5M/yr
  • re-signed Eric Gryba, a move that probably didn’t even make sense to Gryba
  • Bought out Benoit Pouliot and replaced him with unused cap space
  • traded Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome, 1 for 1 (LOL)
What he didn’t do:
  • Find an NHL capable backup goaltender
  • Bother replacing his top defenseman who is still out with no return date in sight.
Add that to the fact that his previous work included trading Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson, 1 for 1 and dealing a 1st and 2nd for Griffin Reinhart (who was lost in the expansion draft, and subsequently waived this year) it seems that the Oilers are going to make me type words that have never been combined before. “Maybe they are better off with Craig MacTavish behind the wheel.”
While I feel like I could go on forever about how Chiarelli managed to close the Oilers competitive window before it was ever fully opened, this is a Leafs blog, and I should give some mention to them as well.
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The Leafs are doing awesome. They are 7-2-1 in their last 10, and even when they do things we don’t fully agree with, the team manages to find a way to keep on winning. As much as it’s been a favourite pastime around these parts to make fun of Babcock for sitting Soshnikov, Leivo, and Carrick in favour of Moore, Martin, and Polak, the Leafs opting to let every play and potentially avoid any late season fatigue isn’t a horrible thing and it’s a far cry from last year when Leivo rarely made his way down from the press box. Truly the Leafs are living their best life. While the Oilers keeping on Oiling. At least they have Connor McDavid. And Oscar Klefbom’s abs.

Lineups via DailyFaceoff.com

Loose Change

  • Check out Nuge’s python
  • Cam Talbot is banged up and probably can’t play tonight, that means Laurent Brossoit gets the start. Brossoit is best remembered as the guy who struggled to pass Jonas Gustavsson on the Oilers depth chart.
  • Andersen gets the nod for the Leafs, though it’s the Oilers, this wouldn’t have been a bad game for McBackup to have a go.
  • The B squad of Martin, Moore, and Polak remain in, which again isn’t something worth getting worked up over when the opponent is the Oilers. Sure it would be nice to see Leivo light up an AHL goaltender, but it can also be enjoyable to see Matt Martin punch Milan Lucic in the face.
  • Auston Matthews didn’t have a shot last game. I’m willing to be he gets one tonight.
  • Don’t get caught up in the McDavid vs. Matthews hype, the real battle is Russell vs. Polak to see who can have the most unforced icings tonight.
Game time 9PM ET, so grab a nap. It will be on TSN 4 for Ontario folk, and Sportsnet for us Western folk.
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LGD BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE PINT

Make the Pint your home for all things game day. We give away a free pound of wings during every game either home or away. $4.40 mugs of Bud and Bud Lights.