James Reimer To Start Against Edmonton Oilers
Reimer and Gagner represent the NHL’s third and first stars of the week, respectively, as both players had huge performances with Reimer (who is expected to get the nod between the pipes for the Maple Leafs tonight) earning back-to-back shutouts against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators, while Gagner pulled off an incredible eight-point game against the Chicago Blackhawks, followed by a three-point effort against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Oilers enter tonight’s contest with a 4-0-1 record in their past five games, while the Maple Leafs have also gone 4-0-1 in that same five game stretch.
With the Maple Leafs recent success the Blue and White have managed to put themselves into a playoff spot, occupying eighth in the Eastern Conference standings. That said, one missed step and the Maple Leafs could fall out of a playoff spot as just two points separate the Leafs and Washington Capitals, who will take on the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.
Tonight’s matchup between the Maple Leafs and Oilers will be the first time the two sides have met all season. The Oilers pasted the Blue and White by a final score of 5-0 on December 2nd, 2010, the last time these two sides met, with Oilers forward Taylor Hall notching two goals that evening.
Of course a lot has changed for the Maple Leafs between then and now, especially up front where Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul representing one of the NHL’s most potent duals, while the Oilers continue to let their young stars such as Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan-Nugent Hopkins evolve.
While many eyes will likely be on Reimer and Gagner as their respective team’s key to victory, the best thing both teams can do is stay out of the penalty box as the Oilers and Maple Leafs own the third and fifth best power plays in the NHL, respectively.
Edmonton does hold an edge on the Maple Leafs on the penalty kill with the Oilers coming in at 13th overall, while a recent streak of great penalty killing has seen the Maple Leafs go from last to 29th overall.
Defensively the two sides are very even with the Oilers giving up 2.85 goals per game, whileTorontosits right behind the Oilers giving up an average of 2.86 goals per game.
At the end of the day, like most games, the outcome of tonight’s tilt will likely come down to which offensive stars play their best hockey.
Edmonton and Toronto are both capable of exploding for 4-5 goals in a game. My best bet, as good as Reimer has been, take the over, with the Maple Leafs squeaking by the Oilers in a fun-filled 5-4 victory.
Until next time,