Game Notes G16: Oilers begin four-game road trip against the Lightning
By Cam Lewis3 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers are making their annual trip through the old Southeast Division and they’ll kick things off on Saturday afternoon against the Lightning in Tampa Bay.
1. The Oilers made this same four-game trip in early November last season and split the four games with two wins and two losses. They lost to the Capitals in Washington, rebounded with a win in Tampa, lost 7-2 to the Hurricanes in Carolina, and then finished the trip with a 4-2 win against the Panthers back in Florida.
2. That aforementioned win over the Lightning was the game in which Evander Kane suffered a gruesome wrist injury and had to be rushed to a local hospital. Kane missed two months of play and wound up finishing the season with 16 goals in 41 games.
It’s difficult to come back from an injury like that as quickly as Kane did and it looks like he’s finally back to 100 percent nearly one year later. Kane’s hat trick against the Seattle Kraken earlier this week put him at seven goals through 15 games on the season, a 38-goal pace over 82 games.
3. Connor Brown will make his return to Edmonton’s lineup this afternoon after missing six games because of a lower-body injury. This will be Brown’s 10th game of the season, so his $3.225 performance bonus will be activated.
The Oilers need to get some offence out of Brown. He has very good underlying numbers but hasn’t recorded a point through nine games this season. The next goal that Brown scores will be his first since March of 2022, as he missed all but four games in 2022-23 because of a torn ACL.
There are a few other forwards who also need to get the monkey off their back: Ryan McLeod and Derek Ryan are both without a goal through 15 games.
4. Among the four teams the Oilers will face on this trip, the Lightning actually have the lowest points percentage. Tampa has a 7-6-4 record through the first month of play this year, a considerable decline from what we’ve come to expect from the perennial contender.
The Lightning are struggling without star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who’s expected to miss the first 8-to-10 weeks of the season after undergoing back surgery in September. Backup and third-string goaltenders Jonas Johansson and Matt Tomkins have combined for a .894 save percentage thus far and the Lightning ranks 27th in the league in terms of goals against.
5. Goaltending has been a story this season as well for the Oilers. Jack Campbell posted a .873 save percentage in his first five games of the season and was placed on waivers. Stuart Skinner struggled to an .854 save percentage in his first eight games but has been rock-solid for the Oilers in the Kris Knoblauch era.
Skinner has stopped 81 of 86 shots thrown at him over the past three games and is a key reason why the Oilers are on their first winning streak of the season. He’ll start again in Tampa looking to extend Edmonton’s winning streak to four.
6. We’ll surely see third-string goalie Calvin Pickard at some point during this road trip. Campbell has struggled since joining the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL and it doesn’t appear that he’ll be returning to the NHL club any time soon.
Pickard has 116 games of NHL experience between the Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Arizona Coyotes, and Detroit Red Wings with a .903 career save percentage. The No. 49 overall pick from the 2021 draft last played in the NHL with the Red Wings in 2021-22 and has posted strong numbers in the AHL since.
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