Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: FOX Sun
Opponent SBNation Site: Copper and Blue
On Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning extended their winning streak to eight games, beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime. This victory helped them to come even closer to the top of the league. After 57 games, the Lightning are three points shy of the Boston Bruins with one game in hand. Tonight they host the Edmonton Oilers for their first meeting of the season.
However, the last victory wasn’t earned easy. In addition to Jan Rutta and Ryan McDonagh who are already out week-to-week, Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov couldn’t finish the game due to lower-body injuries. After this morning’s morning skate, Jon Cooper confirmed that Kucherov and Cirelli will miss tonight’s game. Steven Stamkos appeared briefly during the practice, but won’t play as well. All three players are day-to-day.
No Stamkos, Kucherov or Cirelli tonight. Good news for TB is Cirelli, Kucherov not out long term enough where they’d put them on IR.— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) February 13, 2020
Yesterday the Lightning recalled Alex Volkov who will slide into the linep today. It’s the third chance for Russian forward to prove himself this season, he recorded one assist during his eight previous games for the Bolts. Cameron Gaunce will make his first appearance this season as the Lightning chose an 11F/7D combination for tonight’s game.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are not the only team affected by injuries in tonight’s matchup. The Oilers recently lost their captain and probably the best player in the world Connor McDavid. As Edmonton general manager Ken Holland announced on Tuesday morning, McDavid is out for the next 2-3 weeks with a quad injury. The Oilers have also placed forward James Neal on injury reserve. He has been dealing with foot injury since January, 30 and won’t be available in near future. The Oilers recalled Tyler Benson from the AHL and he’s expected to meet the team before a game in Tampa.
Unlike the Lightning, who are comfortably sitting near the top of the standings, the Oilers are still battling for a playoff spot in their division. The range between the first and the fifth team in the Pacific is just five points and losing a player such as McDavid, who was involved in 45 percent of the Oilers goals this season, will hurt a lot. James Neal is also a noticeable loss for the team. He might never be as good as he was earlier in his career, but he bounced back a little bit this season, scoring 19 goals in 50 games.
In Connor McDavid’s absence, Leon Draisaitl will have to bear the increased responsibility for the next couple of weeks. The German player is on his way to his first Art Ross Trophy with 89 points in 56 games. Kailer Yamamoto has been also a pleasant surprise this season. The 21-year old forward scored already 14 points in 15 games.
Both teams have pretty strong special teams units. The Oilers have overtaken the spot of the best power play in the league while the Lightning power play unit suddenly stopped producing. However, at even strength, the Oilers have been a pretty average team. They have just 48.91% of expected goal share and 48.37% CF% per Evolving-hockey.com
After tonight’s game, the Lightning have one more game at Amalie Arena on Saturday, when they play against the Philadelphia Flyers, before heading on another road trip.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Alex Volkov
Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Mathieu Joseph
Patrick Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Yanni Gourde
Carter Verhaeghe - Mitchell Stephens
Injured: Nikita Kucherov, Anthony Cirelli, Steven Stamkos
Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk
Braydon Coburn - Luke Schenn,
Injured: Jan Rutta, Ryan McDonagh
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Sam Gagner – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson
Josh Archibald – Riley Sheahan – Zack Kassian
Jujhar Khaira – Colby Cave – Patrick Russell
Injured: Connor McDavid, James Neal, Joakin Nygard
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Caleb Jones – Matt Benning
Injured: Kris Rusell