Remember the last time the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs tangled? Leon Draisaitl certainly does. The Oilers, who had struggled to start the season, had become the high octane machine we expected. They were on a five-game winning streak; they had only lost once in their previous nine games, twice in their last 13 games. You get the picture; they were rolling. Then the Maple Leafs came to town for a three-game series starting on February 27, and the wheels fell off of that machine. Not only did Toronto beat the Oilers, but they also shut them out twice. That high octane team was held to just one goal in three games. The Maple Leafs outscored the Oilers 13-1. Clearly, Draisaitl and the Oilers have something to prove when they meet again on Saturday.
Many consider Toronto’s performance during that series to be the best hockey the team has played all season. Since that time, the teams have gone in entirely different directions. The Oilers have won seven of their last nine games, while the Maple Leafs have only won three of their previous nine games. The Leafs have given up a nine-point lead in the division. They are now fighting to hold on to the top spot.
Equally Matched Teams
This two-game set will be the final contest between the teams for the regular season. Toronto leads the series five games to two. The teams come into the series with nearly identical statistics. Edmonton averages 3.41 goals per game to Toronto’s 3.33. The Oilers powerplay percentage is at 27 compared to the Leafs 26.8. And both teams have struggled on the penalty kill – Toronto’s percentage is 76.8 to Edmonton’s 76.
Since the first time these two teams met this season, which was one of the worst games of the year, this has been must-see TV because of all the star power on the ice at one time. Draisaitl might be right, they could meet seven more times in the playoffs, and given his comments, the table is set for what would be a series to remember.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.