It’s rivalry night on Saturday as the Edmonton Oilers end a four-game road trip at Scotiabank Arena against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Edmonton (36-22-8) will arrive in Toronto high in confidence after becoming just the third team to beat the league leading Boston Bruins on home ice this season, coming back from two down to win 2-3 on Thursday.
The victory improved their road record to 20-10-3, which has helped them to be within four points from top spot of the Pacific Division and currently hold the first Wild Card into the playoffs from the Western Division.
Toronto (39-17-8) will also be on a high heading into the fixture after securing a 4-3 win over New Jersey Devils, who are just four points ahead of them sitting third in the overall NHL standings.
The Leafs are 23-6-4 at home and currently sit second in the Atlantic Division.
|Edmonton Oilers @ Toronto Maple Leafs preview
|Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
|US: 19:00, Saturday March 11th
|How to watch:
|US: NHL.com/ CBC, SNO, SNP
|EDM +105, TOR Maple Leafs -125
Both the Leafs and Oilers have a battle on between their goalies to establish themselves as the number-one ahead of the playoffs and in each case, the seasons’ original back-up appears to be winning the net.
The Leafs allowed Jack Campbell to depart in the off-season and he was signed by the Oilers on a five-year, $5-million deal with the plan to be their long-term solution between the pipes.
He was replaced in Toronto by former two-time Stanley Cup Champion Matt Murray, who was acquired from Ottawa Senators, but each has failed to convince.
Campbell's confidence suffered after a poor start and he is yet to fully recover with his save percentage being .882 in 32 games. Murray, meanwhile, has a better .908 save percentage but has been limited to just 20 games due to injuries which has been a constant issue since he led the Pittsburgh Penguins to back-to-back championships in 2017 and 18.
The Oilers have found better consistency in Stuart Skinner (.913) and the Leafs in Ilya Samsonov (.915), who was signed as a free agent from Washington Capitals in the off-season.
Who gets that start in the crunch clash between the two teams will be interesting, as will the final set of games to see who wins the role for Game 1 of the playoffs.
Whoever plays will have their work cut out to make their playoff case as each side possesses true world-class offensive talent
Toronto's Auston Matthews won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player last season after scoring 60 goals, but that looks set to be taken away from him this season by Edmonton's Connor McDavid () who leads the league with an extraordinary goal tally of 54 and 124 points in 66 games.
McDavid is on pace for 154 points and can become the first player with more than 150 in a season since Mario Lemieux had 161 (69 goals, 92 assists) for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995/96.
McDavid's teammate Leon Draisaitl is second in the league for points with 97 while Mitch Marner leads the Leafs and sits inside the league's top 10 with 79 (23 goals, 56 assists in 64 games).
The Oilers pair are well backed up by the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (78 points) and former Maple Leaf, Zach Hyman (72 points) and Toronto has enjoyed excellent production from William Nylander (76 points) and John Tavares (62 points).
The Oilers have scored the most goals in the NHL with an average of 3.85 per game but unlike Toronto, who rank a respectable ninth with 3.38, their goals against hasn't been so well balanced.
Edmonton are 21st for average goals against, conceding 3.27 per game in comparison to the Leafs' 2.66 which is sixth.
Both teams have an excellent powerplay with the Oilers first in the league, converting 31.6% of their opportunities and the Leafs third at 25.4%.
Again, Toronto have a better record in a defensive aspect with their penalty kill at 81.2% and 13th compared to Edmonton's 75.2% which ranks 24th.
Both the Leafs and Oilers have lofty expectations, but have flattered to deceive in the playoffs over recent years.
Edmonton took a major step forward last season, making the Western Conference Final which was their longest run since an appearance in the Final in 2006.
The Oilers are +600 to go further and win the Western Conference this season, and to win the Stanley Cup which would be their sixth and first since their dynasty years of 1983-1990.
The Leafs are set for a second consecutive meeting with Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, and they are aiming to win a seven-game series for the first time since 2004.
If they are able to break that hoodoo, they are to go on to win the Eastern Conference and +800 to be crowned Stanley Cup Champions which would break a record 55-year drought and would be their 14th in franchise history.