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Edmonton Oilers at Tampa Bay Lightning Preview: The McDavid show arrives

Can the Lightning take two points from McDavid’s Oilers?

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers (32-19-8 72 pts) at Tampa Bay Lightning (26-24-8 60 pts) GAME 59

Time: 7:30pm EST

Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

Broadcast/Streaming: SUN, SNW

Opponent SB Nation Site: Copper n Blue

Previous Game Musings

I was unable to watch the Colorado game except for the overtime. Apparently, that was all I needed to see since Jonathan Drouin decided to literally put the team on his back and dance around every Avalanche player just to score the game-winning goal. I didn’t even celebrate when he scored. I just watched in utter disbelief to see what Drouin just did. Bonkers, man. Completely freaking bonkers.

Preview

Tonight brings in the second-best team in the Pacific Division, the Edmonton Oilers. Or as I like to call them, the “Connor McDavid is here to make everyone look stupid” show. Seriously, McDavid is scary, the kid is barely 20 years old and he makes hardened NHL veterans look stupid on a consistent basis. Do not think this kid is a joke.

The Oilers come into tonight’s game firmly in a playoff spot. They’re battling Anaheim for second place in the division, but they’re only five points behind San Jose for first, and don’t think they can’t challenge for that spot. This is new territory for the Oilers, though. This team has been horribly mismanaged for the past decade, and it is honestly refreshing to see management finally get their heads on straight and give the people of Edmonton a team they can be proud of.

Statistically, Edmonton doesn’t look like they have a lot of weaknesses; they have scored 171 goals (8th), allowed 152 goals (6th), field a good power play at 20.8% (11th), and employ a competent penalty kill at 81.8% (14th). They are in the top half of the league in possession as well with a Corsi For of 50.71% (12th). This is not the Edmonton Oilers from two years ago, this is an Oilers team that knows how to play winning hockey.

Over their last ten games, Edmonton has gone 6-4-0, including three straight wins entering tonight’s game, while scoring 27 goals and allowing 21. They’ve had some bad games — the Chicago and Minnesota losses were quite ugly — but overall the Oilers have played well over their last ten games.

The Lightning have scrounged up at least a point in their last six games. Over their last ten, the Bolts have gone 5-2-3 while scoring 30 goals and allowing 24. That looks a lot more promising compared to previous weeks in the season, however, a disturbing trend has reared its ugly head over the past two games. The inability to hold a multi-goal lead is suddenly an issue for Tampa. Against Dallas and Colorado (two of the weaker teams in the West) the Lightning had a two-goal lead in both before allowing the opposing team to tie it up in the final minutes of the third period. Tampa split those games (both in overtime) seizing 3 points, but the blown game in Dallas still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Numbers wise Tampa doesn’t look much different than they have for most of the season. The Lightning have scored 160 goals (16th), allowed 166 (16th), boast a strong power-play at 21.6% (7th), and field a poor penalty kill at 80.9% (20th). The Bolts possession game is still in the top half of the league at 51.10% (9th), but the results just have not been there this season.

Since the start of 2017, Tampa Bay has gone 7-9-4 while Edmonton has gone 12-8-1. Sure, Edmonton has lost eight in regulation, but they went to overtime or the shootout six different times and only lost once. Securing that extra point is massively important for any team, and something the Lightning have failed to do all season. Since the start of the new year, Tampa Bay has gone to overtime or the shootout six times and lost four of them. Tampa is currently six points out of a playoff spot. if they could have gotten those extra points the Bolts would be within a game of a playoff berth (right behind Boston, Toronto, and Florida).

Tampa Bay has played better as of late, but the Lightning really need to put their foot down if they are going to have any shot at the playoffs. The Bolts have shown that they can keep up with the best teams in the league by defeating Chicago, Los Angeles, and Anaheim in their last ten games. This game against Edmonton won’t be easy. The Oilers are fast and they are hungry — McDavid leads the league in points for a reason. Strong defense and avoiding penalty trouble (the Lightning are in the top 10 for penalties taken) is going to have to be the foundation for a win against Edmonton. The Bolts need to play with real desperation if they want to defeat Edmonton.

Comparison Chart

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Jonathan Drouin

Brian Boyle - Valtteri Filppula - Vladislav Namestnikov

Gabriel Dumont - Cedric Paquette - J.T. Brown

Defense

Victor Hedman - Jake Dotchin

Jason Garrison - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr

Goaltenders

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Edmonton Oilers

Forwards

Patrick Maroon - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle

Milan Lucic - Leon Draisaitl - Anton Slepyshev

Drake Caggiula - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Zack Kassian

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Iiro Pakarinen

Defense

Oscar Klefbom - Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera - Matt Benning

Kris Russell - Eric Gryba

Goaltenders

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit