The Lightning will be looking to extend their win streak on the road to six games. This is the longest since the 2007-08 season.
Since overcoming their slump directly following the Christmas Break, the Lightning seems to be unstoppable. Tonight, the Lightning will face the next to last team in the National Hockey League when they face the Oilers. However, there is one thing that the Lightning need to keep in perspective; when you underestimate your opponent, you open the door for them to strike.
When you take a look at the numbers, these two teams are not entirely too far apart; however, the slight advantage goes to the Bolts.
|Goals Per Game||2.71||2.5|
|Goals Against Per Game||2.27||3.43|
|Shots on Goal Per Game||29.56||27.52|
|Penalty Minutes Per Game||10.85||11.61|
|Power Play Goals||23||27|
|Power Play Percentage||16.1%||17.1%|
|Penalty Kill Percentage||82.9%||81.7%|
There are two things that could serve as game changers here. First of all, the Oilers have a significantly higher Goals Per Game average. Providing the Lightning can be aggressive with the puck possession, and solid on the rebounds, this could really work to the Bolts’ advantage.
However, in the same respect, the Oilers have a better track record on the Power Play. The Bolts have had a problem with not falling prey to unnecessary penalties as of late. This could be rally detrimental to the Bolts if this goes unchecked tonight.
Leading the way for the Oilers is left wing Taylor Hall. Hall has 15 goals and 24 assists for a total of 39 points so far this season. Leading the way in goals scored is left wing David Perron with 17.
On the other side of the ice, it is still the captain leading the way. Martin St. Louis has 17 goals and 21 assists for a total of 38 points to go along with his plus-12 rating.
Some people thought that once Lightning center Steven Stamkos was sidelined with a broken tibia that the Bolts were going to fall to pieces and struggle to win games; however, the Bolts have gone to great lengths to prove that this is not a one man show here in Tampa Bay, and that each and every player is held accountable for their actions out on the ice. It is this kind of personal responsibility that has allowed the Bolts to keep their winning ways moving forward.
Just think…if they are playing this well now, imagine what is going to happen when Stamkos returns.
Tonight, the Lightning will be firing on Oilers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. In the 11 games that he has suited up for this season, he has gone 2-5-2 with a GAA of 3.13 and a Save Percentage of .910.
The Oilers will have the privilege of shooting on Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. Bishop has played 31 games with the Bolts this season. In that time, he has gone 22-5-3 with a GAA of 1.83 and Save Percentage of .936.
Right now, Ben Bishop is tied with Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask with a league leading 4 shutouts so far this season. I don’t know how we got here from last season, but in that amount of time, Bishop has proven that he has what it takes to be one of the top tier goaltenders in the league.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Bolts have all the tools that they need to get the job done tonight. All they have left to do is take the ice and let the Lightning strike.
The puck drops at 8:00 p.m. ET.
What do you think are the keys to tonight’s game? Which player do you think will light the lamps first tonight? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think.