Star-Studded Contest: Previewing the Lightning vs Oilers Matchup

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 06: Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning stops a shot from Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers during a game at Amalie Arena on November 6, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 06: Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning stops a shot from Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers during a game at Amalie Arena on November 6, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

It’s been eight days since the Tampa Bay Lightning have played, having last played on February 15 against the New Jersey Devils. Tampa Bay dominated the Devils 6-3 to give the Lightning their third win in four games. The Lightning (32-11-6) sit in second in the Atlantic Division and are only five points behind the Florida Panthers with two games in hand. The Edmonton Oilers (28-19-3) are third in the Pacific Division after a massive collapse that led to the Oilers losing thirteen games in a row with David Tippett as head coach, causing them to go all the way down to seventh in the Pacific. With their new head coach Jay Woodcroft, it seems the Oilers are becoming the team they were destined to be.

Top Players:

Both the Lightning and the Oilers have huge stars on their teams, with players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for the Oilers, and Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov for the Lightning. Then there are the defensive stars for both teams, with the Oilers having Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie, and the Lightning having Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev. With that being said, here are both teams’ top players based on points, starting with the Lightning.

Steven Stamkos: 23G 32A 55P
Victor Hedman: 11G 39A 50P
Alex Killorn: 16G 27A 43P

The Lightning’s offense has been nothing but spectacular, scoring 169 goals in total in 49 games, which adds up to being 3.44 goals per game. With all the star players back in the lineup for the last month, the Lightning should have no trouble matching up with the Oilers superstar first line.

The Lightning’s defense had its struggles to start the season but quickly got better as the season progressed. Zach Bogosian’s injuries have caused the defense to be weaker than it should be, but Jan Rutta and Ryan McDonagh have done a great job at backing up Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev on their pairings, with Rutta playing with Hedman and McDonagh playing with Sergachev until Erik Cernak returned this past week.

And now for the Oilers, who have quite the change in points after McDavid and Draisaitl.

Connor McDavid: 26G 45A 71P
Leon Draisaitl: 35G 35A 70P
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 7G 30A 37P

The Oilers’ offense seems to only be good when McDavid and Draisaitl are on the ice. The drop in points being that dramatic is worrisome, especially when fans know most of these points are caused by McDavid and Draisaitl’s dominant play on the ice. If the Lightning can shut down McDavid and Draisaitl’s lines, there should be few issues Wednesday night.

The Oilers’ defense has been talked about by fans for a while, as they’ve been playing below average, to say the least. The Oilers defense has allowed far too many shots on the net, leaving Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen fighting an uphill battle in net. 168 goals for and 161 goals against should show how much this defense and goaltending tandem have struggled.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (2.27 GAA, .922sv%) should be starting in net for the Lightning, while Mikko Koskinen (3.13 GAA, .899sv%) should start in net for the Oilers. The Oilers need their best goaltender in net against the Lightning and despite the very poor stats of Koskinen, he’s the best that the Oilers have.

Predictions:

Score: 4-3 OT Lightning
Shots: 32 Lightning/32 Oilers

Top Performer: Brayden Point (2G 1A 3P)
Overall Performance: B-

Reasoning:

The Lightning haven’t played in over a week and have only played four games this entire month, so it’s only expected that some rust has built up over time on the Lightning machine. That being said, with the Lightning putting up so many shots on net mixed with Koskinen and Smith’s sub-par play in net, the Lightning have a good chance to win this game.