Tonight we get to see how the Oilers respond to adversity for the first time under new head coach Jay Woodcroft. The Minnesota Wild dominated the Oilers Sunday night and as a reward the Oilers will try to get back on track against the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Not an easy task.
— The Lightning haven’t played since last Tuesday when they defeated New Jersey 6-3. They will be well rested and looking for a better effort than they had against Colorado earlier this month after another eight-day break. The Avs overwhelmed the Lightning early and led 2-0 in the first six minutes. Tampa never recovered and lost 3-2. The Bolts spoke yesterday about needing a better start tonight. Good starts have not been the norm for the Oilers, and spotting the Lightning a lead will not be wise.
— Tampa is 20-1-4 when scoring first and have the sixth-best W% (.800) when scoring first. Edmonton leads the NHL with a perfect 15-0 record when scoring first. If you are still surprised by the Oilers’— slow starts, then you likely are also surprised when the Bachelor or Bachelorette keeps the wrong person around longer than they should. The Oilers know they need to start better, but so far they’ve been unable to figure out how to do it regularly.
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— The Oilers just played five games in seven days. They’ve only done that seven times in the past 27 years, and three of those five-game sets occurred over the past 12 months due to COVID.
FIRST GAME
LAST GAME
W
L
OTL
2/14/2022
2/20/2022
4
1
0
4/28/2021
5/4/2021
4
1
0
3/12/2021
3/18/2021
3
2
0
12/3/2016
12/9/2016
1
1
3
4/21/2013
4/27/2013
2
3
0
12/30/2006
1/5/2007
1
2
2
11/7/2006
11/13/2006
2
2
1
3/29/1996
4/4/1996
2
3
0
Last year they played at Winnipeg, then two home games v. Calgary and then two in Vancouver in April and May. Earlier last season they hosted Ottawa on March 12th, played in Vancouver on the 13th, in Calgary on the 15th and 17th and home to Winnipeg on the 18th.
The travel was easier than what they just did going to SJ, LA, home to Anaheim, into Winnipeg and back home to Edmonton.
— Five games in seven days used to be much more common in the 1980s for Edmonton. The Oilers had 23 occasions of five games in seven days between 1980-1995, but not nearly as many lately. Here is the breakdown of all 32 teams since 2000.
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TEAM 
SETS
STL
16
PIT
14
NYI
12
BUF, CAR,FLA, LA
11
BOS, CBJ, VAN, WSH, WPG
10
DAL, NYR, OTT, PHI
9
CGY, CHI, COL, NJD, TOR
8
EDM
7
ANA, DET, NSH, SJ
6
ARI, MTL
5
MIN, TBL
4
LVK
1
SEA
0
**Winnipeg has a total of 10, but six of them came when the franchise was in Atlanta. It is interesting to note how the Blues and Penguins have played significantly more 5-in-7 than Minnesota and Tampa Bay.
— Tampa Bay is seventh in goals/game (3.41) while Edmonton is ninth (3.30), but there is a significant gap in goals against/game as Tampa sits ninth (2.70) and the Oilers are 23rd at 3.22. The Oilers only allowed eight goals in their first five games under Jay Woodcroft, but then got lit up for seven v. Minnesota. Even with the Wild’s offensive onslaught, Edmonton is averaging 2.5 GA/GP over the past six games. They will need a stingy defensive mentality against the dangerous Lightning.
— The Oilers are 2-8 in their last 10 games against Tampa Bay dating back to 2015. They haven’t played each other since the Lightning won back-to-back Cups. Their last meeting was February 13th, 2020. Edmonton hasn’t won a game in Tampa since December 9th, 2009. Current Montreal Canadiens head coach Marty St. Louis opened the scoring for Tampa, but the Lightning didn’t have an answer for Zack Stortini. He assisted on the Oilers’ first goal and scored the game winner as Edmonton won 3-2.
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— The one surprising stat about this year’s Lightning is its struggles on the power play. They sit 19th at 19.2%, and much of that is due to the absence of Nikita Kucherov. He’s only played 14 games. He has eight PP points and that is tied for third on the Lightning behind Victor Hedman (18) and Steven Stamkos (16). In Kucherov’s 14 games the Lightning went 8-for-26 (22.8%). He factored in on all eight goals. When he’s in the lineup the Lightning PP is much more dangerous.
— Tampa has six forwards with 13+ goals and Kucherov has seven in 14 games. Add in Hedman’s 11 goals and 50 points and the Lightning’s top two lines are very dangerous. Hedman is a freak on the blueline. He is excellent at every aspect of defending and is elite offensively with 11 goals and 50 points. He can join the rush at any moment, but has the speed to get back in position if the Oilers transition the puck. His size, and length, make it very difficult to penetrate the slot. He’s a treat to watch.
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— West teams have been crushed when they play in Tampa, Florida, and Carolina on the same road trip.
Calgary is 0-3 and were outscored 16-6.
Vancouver went 0-3 and were outscored 13-5.
Arizona was also 0-3 and outscored 12-5.
San Jose was 0-1-2 and outscored 10-7.
LA went 1-1-1 and were outscored 9-7.
Vegas went 1-1-1 and were outscored 10-7.
Colorado went 1-2 and were outscored 13-7. (They played WSH, not CAR).
These teams combined to win three of 21 games.
West teams who only played two of TB, FLA or CAR on the same trip didn’t do much better.
Dallas (0-2, outscored 10-2), Minnesota (0-1-1, outscored 10-8), St. Louis (0-1-1, outscored 8-5) and Seattle (1-1, even at 4-4) combined for one win in eight games when playing TB and FLA. Nashville went 1-1 and was even 9-9 when facing Carolina and Florida.
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Edmonton, Chicago, Anaheim and Winnipeg have yet to face two or three of these teams on the same trip. If the Oilers manage a record of 1-1-1 that should be viewed as a major success.
— Here is the tale of the tape courtesy of Sportlogiq.
The Lightning are top-10 in seven offensive categories and in eight defensive categories. Edmonton continues to be very competitive offensively with 11 top-10 offensive categories, but are only in the top-10 in one defensive category. Allowing slot shots, rush chances and rebound chances are the Oilers weaknesses. The rush chances have improved significantly (except for the Minny game) under Woodcroft and that must continue on the first three games of this road trip if they have any hopes of going 1-1-1.
— Edmonton has been better on the road than at home this season. They are tied for fifth in GF/GP at 3.44 and 13th in GA/GP at 3.00. The problem is Tampa is very stingy at home allowing only 2.38 goals/game (fifth best). The Oilers must find a way to not be down 1-0, or worse, in the first 10 minutes. It has been an issue for Mike Smith recently.
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