Oilers Game 27: Tampa Bay Lightning

I couldn’t even be mad when Connor Bedard opened the scoring on Tuesday night. Virtually no goalie in the league could’ve stopped his shot. It was a great pass from Alex Vlasic from his own zone to Bedard, waiting for the puck just over centre ice. I just feel bad for Evan Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm being on the wrong side of the highlight. But that was the only positive highlight for Chicago on the night, with Edmonton ultimately winning a 4-1 decision. The first Oilers goal was McDavid assisting another former first-overall pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Derek Ryan and Sam Gagner connected on a goal for the second straight game. Bottom six scoring depth is a pretty thing. Leon Draisaitl was all around the puck on both ends of the ice and got a lucky break for a goal when his shot deflected off of Nikita Zaitzev’s stick. Zach Hyman scored a powerplay goal in the first minute of the third period, making up for his offensive zone penalty when his team got a late second period PP. Stuart Skinner became the first goalie this season to record seven straight wins, posting a 1.70 GAA and a .934 SV% in that span. 

When Edmonton started this six-game homestand against Carolina, my expectation was for them to get at least eight points. Four games into the homestand, they got eight points. But why stop there now? One point out of a Wild Card with multiple games in hand on the teams around them in the standings. I didn’t particularly like their game against the Blackhawks, despite what the final score said. The Oilers started off pretty sloppy against a team that had their top two defensemen out of the lineup. They were better as the game went on; I’ll give them that. But closing out this homestand against tougher opponents, you can’t afford to be as lackadaisical anymore. Even after getting an eighth straight win, the true tests will get much bigger from here on out. The keys to the game are…

Andrei The Giant: In Edmonton’s first meeting against Tampa, Andrei Vasilevsky was still sidelined with an injury. Since coming back, he’s posted a 2.75 GAA and an .894 SV% in eight games played. That’s well below average by his standards, but even the league’s best need time to look normal again while healing. He’s still the #1 goalie in the NHL; don’t let this be the night he fully bounces back. Force him to stay uncomfortable with as many chances; don’t stop putting pucks on him.

Stay Out Of The Box: Throughout this eight-game winning streak, Edmonton has killed off 24 of 25 powerplays. Considering how bad they started the season in the goals-against department, their penalty kill looks like their strongest weapon, bringing them back to life. The Lightning, are coming into this game with the third best PP in the league. If the Oilers want to keep the positive PK record up and don’t want to give them chances to strike, they need to limit the penalty trouble. But if they like a challenge, well then…

Still, My League: Connor McDavid went from being 90th or so in league scoring to now being in the top 10 three weeks later. Nikita Kucherov is enjoying his league lead with 47 points. McDavid reminded Bedard on Tuesday that he was still the face of the NHL. He’s going to want to show the same against his fellow All-Star. 

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

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