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Lightning @ Oilers Game 45 Preview

Oilers back to RX1 after 0-2-1 roadtrip

Ben Bishop is doing pretty well for himself in Tampa Bay.
Ben Bishop is doing pretty well for himself in Tampa Bay.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports



25-12-4, 1.318 p/g Ranks 13-26-5, .704 p/g
Eastern Conference: 3rd Western Conference: 72nd
8th P/G 267th
18th ST 716th
6th ES 68th
3rd Goal 129th
6 PM MDT - Sportsnet West, RDS 2
Rexall Place
The opposing view: Raw Charge

Top Story

  • We suck.

The Oilers are saying:

"They weren't doing anything. That line, along with a couple of other forwards - Ebs plays on that line every once in a while - we're not a deep enough team to have the luxury of them having an off night. They can't ever have an off night.

That's Oilers coach Dallas Eakins on benching the top line in the second period of Edmonton's 5-2 loss in Anaheim. (Side note: Eberle was a scratch (knee) for the Anaheim game. I find it somewhat interesting that Eakins brings his name up even though he didn't play.)

My God, we're still only in the mid 40s of an 82 game season. While Eakins didn't shout at reporters about how he was angry at his top line, having him say "they weren't doing anything" and keeping you off the ice for a significant portion of the second period has got to be a pretty close second.

Here we are having embarked on the eighth consecutive season without a playoff berth, The top line sits, the defence is a comic tragedy, and the goaltenders are either having their worst season of their careers or are busy defending their body language on the ice. Nothing to see here, move along.

The Opponent is saying:

"I think Ben's been the answer for 41 games so far this year, and hopefully he can continue to play the way he's been playing"

That's Lightning coach Jon Cooper on the play of goaltender Ben Bishop.

Ben Bishop is having a monster year for the Lightning. In addition to having nine more wins than the entire Oilers team in fourteen less games, Bishop is 22-5-3 with a sparkling .936 SV%. That's a league leading number among goalies who have played half or more of their team's games. He's also got four shutouts, which is no big deal if you're leading the league in SV% I guess.

Of note:

  • Edmonton's last victory was against the Flames on December 27th. They're 0-2-2 since then.
  • Defenceman Brad Hunt wasn't a likely player on this year's team, but he found a way to get into the lineup after getting called up prior to the game in Anaheim. He finished with a total of just under eleven minutes in his first game, including 1:23 on the power play, or as I like to call it "the same amount of power play time that Nail Yakupov ended up getting".
  • Speaking of Nail Yakupov, he's scored a goal in each of his last two games. When Eakins said he'd give Yakupov more playing time, technically he wasn't lying. He's up to twelve minutes, and the same amount of power play time as Brad Hunt.
  • I mentioned a bit about how Ilya Bryzgalov is getting some flack over his body language (you'd be full of gesticulations if you faced 45 shots in one game). I'm a little surprised it's come to this as soon as it has, you'll remember it was all hearts and flowers when he was signed to help relieve Devan Dubnyk. Let me get this straight: Nikolai Khabibulin comes in, is often injured, sucks, signs a crippling four year guaranteed contract, and rarely (if ever) had a shot fired at him from MSM. Bryzgalov is signed to a one year deal seven weeks ago, is decent, tosses a stick and flails his arms, and the guns are already loaded. Right. Got it.

Projected Lines & Pairings:

The Edmonton Oilers

Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - David Perron

Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - Jordan Eberle

Ryan Smyth - Boyd Gordon - Ales Hemsky

Jesse Joensuu - Anton Lander - Ryan Jones

Andrew Ference - Justin Schultz

Anton Belov - Jeff Petry

Nick Schultz - Martin Marincin

Ilya Bryzgalov


The Tampa Bay Lightning

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Martin St. Louis

Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Teddy Purcell

Nikita Kucherov - Nate Thompson - J.T. Brown

Ryan Malone - Richard Panik - Jean-Philippe Cote

Matt Carle - Radko Gudas

Victor Hedman - Andrej Sustr

Eric Brewer - Mark Barberio

Ben Bishop