The big story leading into the game is the matchup of the 2015 1st overall pick, Connor McDavid going up against Auston Matthews, the first overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. McDavid has 12 points to pace the NHL so far and Matthews has lived to his expectations in the first nine games of his NHL career. This is the first meeting of the season between the two players.
Here are five keys to the game:
1.) Keep Connor McDavid In-Check- Maple Leafs
If the Leafs even want to have a chance at winning this game then they are going to have to bring its A game, especially the defense. The line that matches up against the McDavid line will have to make sure that they have him covered at all times, and even may want to be physical. The defensive pairing is going to want to stick to him like glue and not allow him much time or space to create anything. If he has that time and space then look out because it could be a long night for the Leafs. Another good way to keep McDavid off the board is to play in the offensive zone while he’s on the ice.
2.) Get the Lead, Keep the Lead- Maple Leafs
Toronto has had some trouble keep the leads and part of that has been the defense, but some of it has been on the goaltending. The Leafs need to be better defensively and play team defense. The forwards need to support the defense and the defense needs to be careful with the puck. They’ll also need to avoid turnovers especially in its own zone and the neutral zone. The Leafs need to get off to a fast start and keep the pressure on the Oilers with a decent forecheck game so the team has a chance at winning this game.
3.) Contain Auston Matthews & William Nylander- Oilers
Auston Matthews and William Nylander have lead the Leafs in the scoring production this year so far. The duo has combined for 21 total points. Nylander has 11 points with Matthews right behind him with 10. Matthews is the goal scorer and Nylander is the setup man, but Nylander does have four goals on the season. Another way to keep these two off the board is to stay out of the box because 11 of their 21 points have come while on the man advantage. Generally, as Nylander and Matthews go, the Leafs offense goes.
4.) Power Play- Edmonton
The one weakness of the Oilers early going has been its power play. In 27 power play opportunities, the Oilers have only four power play goals. Edmonton has given up two shorthanded goals against. They are operating at a 14.8% while on the man advantage. Toronto have allowed six power play goals against while being shorthanded 30 times. The Oilers need to take advantage of its power play opportunities especially since the Leafs allow some goals.
5.) Goaltenders- Toronto & Edmonton
Cam Talbot has a record of 7-2-0 with a 2.05 goals against average and a .936 save percentage. Talbot has faced 280 shots and only allowing 18 goals against.Talbot also has two shutouts on the season too. Frederik Andersen has struggled to start the season after signing a new five-year deal to become the Leafs number one goalie in the offseason. In his last five games played, Andersen has allowed four or more goals three times. He has been better in his last two starts and has only allowed two goals in each of those games. The goalies could turn out being the difference in the game.