The Edmonton Oilers are set for a showdown with the Maple Leafs on Saturday night in Toronto (630 CHED, Face-off Show at 3:30 p.m., game at 5 p.m.).
“It’s always special, especially since it’s Saturday night,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who has 28 points in 20 career games against the Leafs.
There’s always hype when McDavid plays in Toronto, and even more so this season. He missed last season’s game while in COVID protocol. The Leafs won 4-2. In 2021, the Oilers played four games in Toronto, but there were no fans in attendance because of the pandemic.
However, McDavid isn’t buying into the expectations that he has to put on a show in Canada’s biggest hockey market.
“I want an Edmonton Oilers win. That’s all I want. If that’s how it works out personally, great. If not, and I have to play a lesser role, that’s great, too,” said McDavid, who said he feels good after a late game collision with teammate Derek Ryan Thursday in Boston.
With 16 games left in the regular season, McDavid has 124 points. He has a shot to record the NHL’s first 150-point season since Mario Lemieux in 1995/96.
“He’s taken it to a different level. Everyone goes to the goal scoring — which speaks for itself, the pace that he’s on right now — but I would go to the leadership side of things,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. “It’s not just about setting an example for Connor McDavid. It’s about pushing teammates to do things the right way.”
McDavid had an eleven-game point streak end in Boston. The Oilers won 3-2 by getting goals from Evan Bouchard, Ryan McLeod, and Darnell Nurse. Stuart Skinner was strong in net again, making 26 saves.
“That’s how you win when it matters most. It takes everybody. We got contributions up and down the lineup. Stu stood tall. That’s how you win when it matters,” McDavid said.
It’ll be the first game in Toronto for Woodcroft as a head coach.
“I grew up in a proud hockey family here in Toronto,” said Woodcroft. “To come home and lead such a proud organization into the game tomorrow, I feel proud.”
The Oilers beat the Leafs 5-2 at Rogers Place last Wednesday.