The Edmonton Oilers are struggling. Their record is 3-8-2 since the start of December, losing to the likes of the Islanders, Devils, and the Kraken (twice!) in that span. Four of the bottom 10 teams in the league.

Last night they lost 4-1 to the Rangers, who are actually a good team this year. But it was a 4-1 in a rough span of losses, including blowing leads and losing in overtime. After the struggles they’ve had for a few years when everyone constantly expects them to be contenders, people are out for blood. They’re not having a fun time right now.

And you know what that means!

One segment of Oilers fans and media are blaming the coach for not getting more out of a team that has tons of talent. Others are blaming the GM for never building around their stars that well, or not well enough. And then there are the ones that blame the players. Not just any players, their best players.

It just so happens that the next game that Edmonton plays is on Wednesday against the Maple Leafs. And the Maple Leafs may be without their best player for a while...

So imagine if the struggling Oilers come into Toronto without Auston Matthews and lose again to extend their misery? Especially with how much they hate the Leafs and Toronto media out west. Imagine?

Back to Excited Episode 162: The Leafs play a game! | by AT Fulemin and Arvind

Leafs Prospect Roundup: World Juniors cut short, Niemelä contract news, Miettinen finding his form | by TLN

Sheldon Keefe on Auston Matthews’ positive COVID-19 test | transcript by MLHS

Monday Morning Leafs Report: T.J. Brodie is the master of slides and subtlety | by The Athletic

Elite Prospects wrote this great article breaking down Matthew Knies, one of the Leafs’ top prospects now.

It has a detailed analysis of his strengths and mechanics, including video examples. If you want the TL;DR, there’s this money quote.

Considering all of this, it’s fair to say that Knies has been Minnesota’s best player in his first year. This team has 15 NHL draft picks, with another player (Ben Meyers) likely to sign with an NHL team when the season’s over. He’s two points back of the team lead. In a five-game sample, he leads the team in Game Score, which combines stats like expected goals, zone entries, and defensive breakups.

The Marlies won against Belleville last night 4-2, which includes this highlight reel goal to open the scoring.

The Marlies will have have an adjusted schedule:

NHL Rumour Roundup: Is it almost time for the Oilers to make a move? | by Sportsnet

Senators add three players, one coach to COVID-19 protocol | by

Some good nerd stuff for those into analytics.

Speaking of nerds, the Sabres are continuing to stockpile them. We’ll see if they actually listen to their advice.