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Edmonton Oilers at Tampa Bay Lightning: McDavid, Kucherov, and not much defense

Bolts look to stop their two game losing streak

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME 72

Time: 5:00 PM EDT

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SUN

Opponent SBNation Site: Copper n’ Blue

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning head into this afternoon’s game against the Edmonton Oilers looking to respond after ugly back-to-back losses. For a team that’s struggling with defense and goaltending, facing Connor McDavid probably isn’t going to help. But that’s what the Bolts will have to do, and they’ll have to do it with freshly recalled backup goaltender Louis Domingue in net.

McDavid is playing like his typical otherworldly self over the last ten games at nearly a two points per game pace. The idea of him slicing through this currently weak Lightning defense is nightmarish. David Pastrnak is a great player, but he’s no McDavid, yet he made the Bolts look silly on the first Bruins goal last night. If the defense doesn’t do a better job tonight, we could see some incredible stuff from the best player in the game.

The Lightning have their own Hart Trophy contender in Nikita Kucherov who hasn’t been far off McDavid’s pace with 14 points in his last ten games. He didn’t score last night for the first time in March. He hasn’t been held scoreless in back-to-back games since the first of February, so look for him to be part of the solution for the Lightning tonight.

The Oilers have had a strange year as a team. We can see that in the comparison chart.

Their overall numbers for the year are still above average. Early in the year, they looked like a good team who was just getting unlucky with shooting percentage. But as the year progressed, they slid further and further down the rankings and now look like just an average team for the year.

In their last ten games, they’ve been terrible. Their defense is among the worst in the league and their offense is just average, which is outrageous considering they have McDavid. Their penalty kill is horrific, and has been all season. The power play is just okay.

As encouraging as it would be for the Lightning to solidify defensively and get some saves, this game seems ripe for a shoot-out. Both teams have offensive firepower and both teams have a proclivity for giving up goals. Maybe a highlight reel-filled palate cleanser would be the reset button the Lightning need to recalibrate as they prepare for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

J.T. Miller - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov

Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson

Adam Erne - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn

Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Cory Conacher

Defense

Victor Hedman - Jake Dotchin

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Mikhail Sergachev - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr

Slater Koekkoek

Goaltending

Louis Domingue

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Edmonton Oilers

Forward Lines

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Connor McDavid - Ty Rattie

Milan Lucic - Ryan Strome - Jesse Puljujarvi

Drake Caggiula - Ryan Strome - Anton Slepyshev

Iiro Pakarinen - Jujhar Khaira - Zack Kassian

Defense

Darnell Nurse - Adam Larsson

Oscar Klefbom - Ethan Bear

Andrej Sekera - Kris Russell

Goaltending

Cam Talbot

Al Montoya