SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers, Leafs plan to bring all they've got

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:55 PM ET

TORONTO- This year's Edmonton Oilers meet last year's Edmonton Oilers Saturday at the Air Canada Centre.

And it's kind of a spooky reunion.

Just like the Oilers were last March, the Toronto Maple Leafs have long been counted out of the playoff race, and just like the Oilers last March, they're on a wild charge to get back in it.

The not-so-lowly Leafs are 6-1-3 in their last 10 and have just five regulation losses in their last 22 (10-5-7).

They're playing loose and relaxed, just like the Oilers were when they went on that 14-5-1 stretch drive last season.

"Loose and passionate is a dangerous mix," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish, who expects a dandy in the Hockey Night in Canada main event. "They have a lot of players in their lineup playing prominent roles that they've never played before and they're energized by it and they're playing hard. They're going to come hard tonight, it's going to be a great game."

Leafs defenceman Ian White seems to think so.

"It's going to be a hard, physical game," he said. "On Hockey Night in Canada it always seems that both teams show up. It's going to be a fun game, a hard-fought gritty game because we're probably more desperate than them."

Not by much. The Leafs are 11th in the east, nine points out of a playoff spot. The Oilers are ninth in the West, two points out.

"We don't look at the standings and prepare for a team based on how many points they have," said defenceman Steve Staios. "Toronto has been getting a lot of wins lately, we're going to have to be at our absolute best tonight."

The Oilers, 2-4-2 in their last eight, understand the Leafs, (5-0-3), are going to bring everything but the kitchen sink.

"They've been playing really well of late and spoiling a lot of teams‚ parties," said Oilers centre forward Andrew Cogliano. "For us we really need to focus on getting off to a good start and taking the wind out of their sails a little bit."

That's Toronto's plan, too.

"If we can be a little relaxed, get out to a lead, the pressure doubles down with each goal you score on a team like Edmonton," said Toronto coach Ron Wilson. "Any of these teams that have a lot to battle for (being on the cusp of playoff spot), if they get behind in a game and try to open up it can sometimes be disastrous."


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