February 24 2009 01:01PM
Vinny, Vinny, Vinny and the Bolts. Or maybe it is Marty, Marty, Marty and the Bolts because after those two, the Bolts don’t have much. The Bolts have scored the fourth fewest goals in the league, with 152, but 43% of their goals come from three players in Lecavalier, St. Louis and Ryan Malone.
Tampa gets basically no goals from their D-men. They have a league-low 11 goals from the backend, while the Oilers have 33 from the rearguards, the fifth most in the NHL.
The Bolts have also given up the fourth most goals, 191, so they don’t score much, they don’t defend very well and their goaltending is suspect. This should be guaranteed-win night for the Oilers, but this is a home game for the Oilers and nothing has come easy at home.
The Oil have 30 points in 28 home games, and are tied with LA for the fewest home wins in the Western Conference. What’s even worse for the Oilers is that they have been outscored 75-81 on home ice.
Yes, their offence has been inconsistent, but the biggest reason the Oilers find themselves out of the playoffs today, is because they have no identity at Rexall Place. This isn’t a tough rink for the opposition to come into right now. The Oilers don’t amp up their physical play at home; in fact, they are much more aggressive on the road.
Tonight is the first of three straight home games, against teams that are beatable. Tampa, Columbus and Minnesota are not world beaters, and when you look at key stretches of a season, tonight starts an important three games.
Currently the Oilers are on pace for 87 points, which would leave them outside the playoffs. Columbus, Dallas and Minnesota are all on pace for 90 points. Granted those projections can change quickly with a two-game winning or losing streak, but today they are outside the playoffs. It looks like they will need 92 points to ensure they get in, so they will need to go 13-7-3, or 14-8-1 or 12-6-5 or some combination of that to make the dance.
Tonight is a must-win for the Oilers, and the line-up will be the same as Saturday.
Same D and Roloson will start again. The drive to the playoffs begins tonight, and the Oilers can’t afford to hit the ditch against the lowly Lightning.