NHL Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs | 03/23/2024

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We knew the Oilers played their best hockey in third periods, but Thursday night’s third period was something else: Five unanswered goals, two of them by defensemen. Mattias Ekholm scored a pair, by the way. It was a fairly unexpected outcome after two periods since Edmonton wasn’t really playing their best hockey, and the Sabres have been equally good in third periods this season. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who has been one of the very best goaltenders in the second half of the season, had a rare off night, that’s all. And hey, Connor Brown scored again. That’s pretty cool.

After the first game between these teams on January 16th, Mitch Marner took part in the post-game media scrum for the Maple Leafs. And this was back when his team was having some struggles of their own. Marner stated that he knew his team was better than the final results were showing and that he, along with his teammates, were not paying attention to the outside noise. They’re pretty fine now, but a lot of people didn’t like his take. I, however, agree with him. As an Oilers fan who would’ve echoed that thought during the months of October and November, that outside noise he was referring to makes it monumentally harder for struggling teams to find their rhythm again. Two months later, they meet one last time. A goal-scoring machine VS a goal-setting machine on a Saturday night Hockey Night In Canada broadcast. The keys to the game are…

Superstar Payback? In the first meeting, Auston Matthews opened the scoring less than a minute into the game, and that was it. I hardly noticed him the rest of the night, even when he added an assist. Connor McDavid got just one point, albeit on the game-winning goal. But he was doing so many other things to help generate momentum on his side. Matthews will want a revenge night against McDavid in his own rink.

Don’t Lose Focus: Last season, when Edmonton visited Toronto, they had a two-goal lead in the second period, and it looked like they could shut it down for the rest of the night. Then, one brutal mistake in their own zone changed everything, and the Maple Leafs’ Stars could not stop scoring. Much to my chagrin, as I attended that game. A simple lapse in judgement is all it takes, limit them.

Hometown 50?: Of course Zach Hyman was going to be asked about this in his recent practice interview, and of course he was going to say he’s more focused on getting the win. We can still expect all of Edmonton’s other stars to keep feeding him the puck all night long, as he’s only two goals away from hitting 50 in his hometown against the team that he started his NHL career with.

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  1. Thank You ARI for the 65 Goal Scorer
  2. Squashington Napitals
  3. Challenging Coaches and Coaches' Challenges
  4. If Refs Could Turn Back Time
  5. The Art of The Deadline

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

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