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GDB 16.0: Taming Tampa (2pm MT, Sportsnet)

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
baggedmilk
5 months ago
Given the Oilers’ historical record in the daylight hours, it’s fair to wonder what to expect from this afternoon’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yet, the team is 2-0 in the Coach Garlic era and arguably playing the most resilient brand of hockey we’ve seen all year, meaning that I have hope that we’ll be talking about a fourth straight win when we hear the final buzzer. Dearest Internet friends, it’s game day.
Be sure to check out the latest NHL odds with online sportsbook Betway.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that the Oilers have won their last three games without necessarily giving us perfect outings. There were points in all three of those wins when I thought it was over or that the boys would blow it, but despite the hiccups and lulls, the Oilers still found a way to close them out. Finding a way to win despite not playing their best hockey is a stark contrast from what was happening earlier in the year, and I’m hoping this recent resilience is something the Oilers will be bringing with them on this road trip. In these last three games, the Oilers found a way to score four+ goals in each while also getting the clutch saves they needed to weather any storms that came their way. Those kinds of numbers would be commonplace around here under normal circumstances, but through the first 15 games of the 2023-24 season, we’re forced to celebrate the small wins in the hopes that they turn into something bigger and better.
Heading into Tampa, the Oilers have the opportunity to extend their win streak to four games against a Lightning team that barely resembles the one the league came to fear. That’s not to say they’re a terrible team or anything — they’re still the Tampa Bay Lightning, after all — but if ever there was a time that they were vulnerable, it has to be right now in the weeks before they get Andrei Vasilevskiy back in goal. At 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, one of the Lightning’s biggest problems over that stretch is that they’ve given up an average of 3.7 goals per game, which would never usually happen had Vasilevskiy been there to patrol the crease. But don’t let that number fool you into thinking this will be easy. Despite the leaky goaltending, the Lightning still managed to score 32 goals over that same period, meaning that they’d likely be doing better than the four wins if they were able to get an extra save or two. Sound familiar? I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that the Lightning are beatable right now, and that’s an opportunity the Oilers cannot pass up, provided that they can keep the offensive touch going while also limiting the grade-A chances against.
Let’s see what the numbers say…

THE NUMBERS

OILERSLIGHTNING
RECORD5-9-17-6-4
WIN/LOSS STREAKW3W1
LAST 10 GAMES4-6-04-4-2
GOALS FOR4357
GOALS AGAINST5561
POWER PLAY%25.030.4
PENALTY KILL%74.183.7
AVG. SHOTS/FOR33.830.2
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST29.531.8
TEAM SAVE%.895.877
CORSI FOR%56.3454.86
PDO0.9610.970
TEAM SHOOTING%6.649.31
EXPECTED GOALS FOR%55.7654.53
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)
  • Today’s game will mark Edmonton’s first of two games against the Lightning this season and the lone game in Tampa Bay. The next time these teams meet is on December 14th in Edmonton. The last time these teams squared off was back on January 19th, 2023, at Rogers Place, with the Oilers coming out on top with a 5-3 win.
  • Leon Draisaitl leads the Oilers with 17 (8G, 9A) career points against the Lightning. Evander Kane has appeared in a team-leading 36 career games against Tampa Bay.
  • Connor McDavid recorded his 263rd career multi-point game Wednesday versus the Islanders. He moved within one of Nicklas Backstrom and John Tavares (both w/264 multi-point games) for seventh-most among active players.
  • Worried about another matinee? Rightfully so. The Oilers have an all-time record of 62-82-23 in games that start at 3 pm (local time) or earlier. I know this one starts at 4 PM Tampa time, but I think the point remains the same.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Brown
Kane – Draisaitl – Hyman
Foegele – McLeod – Ryan
Erne – Hamblin – Gagner/Lavoie
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
With Connor Brown set to make his return to the lineup for the first time since November 2nd against the Dallas Stars, Kris Knoblauch chose to mix up the lines again as he works to find the perfect combo. Given that he coached both Connors with the Erie Otters, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that he wants to try them together on the top line, but I certainly hope we get more luck with the duo than we did when Woody tried to start the season. Not to mention, today will mark Brown’s 10th game of the year, triggering the $3.25 million bonus that will kick over to next season provided that the Oilers can’t fit any of it under the cap this year.

Lightning

Hagel – Point – Kucherov
Stamkos – Cirelli – Paul
Jeannot – Motte – Eyssimont
Watson – Glendening – Merela
Hedman – Perbix
Sergachev – Cernak
de Haan – Raddysh
Johansson
Without Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t anywhere close to being the same team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals three years in a row. To take that a step further, they’ve actually given up more goals on the year than the Oilers have. That said, we all know how the Oilers tend to handle dances with the backup goaltenders, so I think a big key to winning this hockey game will be figuring out how to prevent a guy that doesn’t generally play a whole lot from looking like a Vezina candidate.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From RawCharge.com:
The Tampa Bay Lightning snapped a three-game winning losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Brayden Point, Mikhail Sergachev, Victor Hedman, and Brandon Hagel provided the goals while Jonas Johansson snapped a personal four-game losing streak by stopping 13 of 15 shots. Point ended up with three points while Hedman and Sergachev had two points a piece. Lukas Reichel and old friend Corey Perry scored for the home team.
The Bolts came into the game with a new look to their lines. Alex Barre-Boulet was scratched in favor of Austin Watson while Nick Paul joined Anthony Cirelli and Steven Stamkos on the second line. That pushed Tyler Motte into the middle of Tanner Jeannot and Mikey Eyssimont.
Tampa Bay held Chicago to just 15 shots and posted a 64.09% share of expected goals. The only real downer for the night was that Anthony Cirelli left the game after blocking a shot and didn’t return. Coach Cooper didn’t have an update on his status, but did comment that “the fact he couldn’t come back, that’s a little worrisome”.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers pick an early goal in the opening minutes of the game, setting the tone for what will be a thrilling 4-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid shows the world his cold streak is over by scoring a goal in a third straight game.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor Brown hasn’t played in two weeks, but he makes an immediate impact by picking up his first goal (and point) of the season.

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