Home or away game in Edmonton?
Oilers ready for sea of Leaf fans
|Steve MacIntyre (left) and Colton Orr fight during NHL action between the Leafs and Oilers on Dec. 2. (QMI Agency/Alex Urosevic)
EDMONTON - For an Oilers team with a better record away from home than it has at Rexall Place, this is perfect.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in town, so there will be a definite road game feel when the puck drops tonight.
“There will be a lot of people here who like the Toronto Maple Leafs, that’s the way it is,” said Oilers coach Tom Renney. “I think the emotion of Toronto being in town, an Original Six team, should help us.”
There are plenty of reasons the Oilers need to be sharp for this one: For starters, they’re facing a team that’s still a little sour after getting whipped 5-0 in their own building last time they met. They also have captain Dion Phaneuf and Colby Armstrong, a pair of physical, character guys, back in the lineup. And the Toronto media is trying to whip them into a frenzy over a Taylor Hall quote.
“Nobody wants to lose like that in their own barn, especially to a rival Canadian city,” said Jordan Eberle. “I’m sure they’ll have a little bad blood, any team would. And they have their captain back, they’re going to be a better team.”
The Oilers are also coming off a loss to Vancouver in which they were outshot 32-12, on the heels of being outshot 17-1 in the third period against Tampa Bay. They’re getting pressure to pick it up, too.
“We have to play hard tonight,” said Renney. “We have to stop this (lacklustre playing) now.”
As for the Hall quote, he suggested that if the Oilers show more intensity than they did against Vancouver, the Leafs are beatable.
“Hopefully we can compete a lot harder,” he said on Monday. “Because (Toronto) is a team that, if we do, it’s there for the taking.”
Hardly controversial, but this is Toronto.
“I don’t think it’s any different than saying if we play our game we can beat any team in the league,” Hall explained at the morning skate on Tuesday. “I don’t mean to slight Toronto, they’re playing very well lately.
“It’s a big game for both of us; they want to start their road trip off right and we’re coming off a loss where we didn’t play our greatest hockey. There’s a lot at stake in this game.”
And the Leafs wouldn’t mind a little payback for the 5-0 spanking.
“Teams don’t forget losses like that,” said Hall. “Especially in their own building.”
LATE HITS... D Jim Vandermeer is out for a couple of weeks after jamming his ankle last game against Vancouver. Jason Strudwick will draw in in his place... Steve MacIntyre will also play his first game since Edmonton’s 5-0 win in Toronto.
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