Oilers hope to slow Leafs down
MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
|Toronto Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak and Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Jones go after a loose puck during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Toronto Dec. 2, 2010. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)
When it comes to track meets on ice, there are few better sprinters on blades than the young fleet-footed Edmonton Oilers.
That’s why when Oilers sniper Taylor Hall suggests his team must slow the pace of the game down on Wednesday night when it hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs, it seems like a curious thing to say.
After all, the Leafs are coming off a 5-1 loss in Calgary on Tuesday against a much slower, some would say “lead-footed” Flames squad that somehow managed to grind out more offence than Toronto could muster.
Part of that, of course, was the result of the heroics of Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who turned aside 42 Toronto shots and was aided by a post and a crossbar.
Still, in the end, you would think the Oilers would want to speed up the game and exchange chances with a Toronto team that has lost four consecutive times while being outscored 16-5.
But Hall and his teammates are quick to point out that they were burned nine days ago by adopting that philosophy, a train wreck that ended up seeing them drop a 6-3 decision to the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre back on Feb. 5.
“They played the run-and-gun game better than we did,” Hall said. “We gave them early turnovers and we really ended up paying for it.
“As offensive players, it’s tough to slow things down. At the same time, we saw the way it worked for Calgary on Tuesday against them. It’s something we’re going to try too.”
The Leafs have gone 0-4 since that victory over the Oilers.
Edmonton, meanwhile, is looking to win five in a row at home for the first time since an eight-game run Feb. 4-March 2, 2008.
Nikolai Khabibulin gets the start in goal for the Oilers while it is believed James Reimer will be between the pipes for the Leafs, although that has not been confirmed since the Leafs did not skate on Wednesday morning.
Don’t be surprised if Colby Armstrong and Keith Aulie are inserted into the lineup as the Leafs attempt to snap out of their four-game funk.