Keep it together Oilers, keep it together. That’s a sentiment shared among many Oilers’ fans who are hoping the start of the season wasn’t a mirage. I hate to break it to you, but the Oilers are going to endure a sharp period of regression. It was a nice start for Edmonton, but this is a marathon not a sprint. Connor McDavid is good, really good, but he isn’t good enough to continue to carry this team throughout several months. The better question might be how long is it going to take before the Oilers are under .500? Maybe I’ll eat my words and the Oilers can hang in there. However, we’ve already seen signs of them going backwards instead of forward. If the Oilers completely revert to being a dumpster fire again, I can say with certainty that no one will remember this hot start from them. Did anyone remember what the Canadiens did to start last season out? No, they remember a team who didn’t make the playoffs.
The Oilers enter tonight with a respectable record of 12-9-2. That is good enough for 1st in the rather uncompetitive Pacific. I highly doubt that’s going to hold up for the Oilers, though. While everyone wants to talk about how good they were playing, things have changed a bit since then. They started the season out at 7-1-0, and now they are 12-9-1, so that just about tells you everything you need to know. The Oilers went on a five-game losing streak, including 2-7-1 during that stretch. So, the perception here is that the Oilers 7-1-0 start was smoke and mirrors.
I don’t think that Edmonton represent a 7-1-0 team, nor do I believe that they are as bad as they looked during their five-game skid. I think a team four or five games below .500 is what we’re going to get from there by seasons end. The Maple Leafs are hanging on to a 9-8-4 record at the moment. They are so young we can’t expect the world from them, but there has to be improvement in each ensuing season for the Leafs. It probably wouldn’t hurt to get another high draft pick, though. This isn’t the time to tank for a high pick though, Mike Babcock can’t afford to watch his team flounder that badly again. It’s Auston Matthews vs Connor McDavid round 2 tonight in Edmonton.
The Maple Leafs got the best of the Oilers in the first meeting on November 1st, a 3-2 overtime win for Toronto. Now the scene changes to Edmonton, where the Oilers will be looking to get that win back. Neither Matthews or McDavid got on the stat sheet. Combined they posted a plus-minus rating of -3, so it wasn’t the best nigh for these young guns. We’ll see if they can tickle the twine and contribute tonight in Edmonton. The Oilers come in losing two straight, following back-to-back loses to the Arizona Coyotes. Streaky sums up the Oilers’ season thus far. They’re either on or off, and that’s what you come to expect from a young team, just like the Leafs.
Toronto has to be feeling pretty good after defeating the Washington Capitals on Saturday night. The goaltending and defensive effort has been much better. Frederik Andersen has looked like a guy worthy of the starting job in net. In their last six games they’ve allowed 2.1 goals per game. A significant difference for a team who needs to get some more production in the defensive department. On offense the Maple Leafs have scored 3.14 goals per game, which ranks 2nd in all of the NHL. If the defense can continue to figure it out, the Leafs will have something going for themselves. I don’t like the Oilers as -155 or more favorites in this game. That number is absurd. The Leafs have a much better chance of winning this than what the odds indicate at +135. At that number, Toronto is worth a look tonight.
PICK: MAPLE LEAFS TO WIN +135