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GAME PREVIEW: Edmonton Oilers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Oilers host a heavy hitter before the holiday break

NHL: Calgary Flames at Edmonton Oilers
Top Line Pulju
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers (18-14-3) (5th, Pacific)

Tampa Bay Lightning (27-7-2) (1st, Atlantic)

8 PM MST

Rogers Place

TV: CBC, Sportsnet, Sportsnet One

Radio: 630 CHED

SB Nation Opponent: Raw Charge

The Oilers haven’t played since Tuesday, which feels like an eternity. On Tuesday, they were unable to overcome a St. Louis Blues squad that had twelve wins on the season. Today, they’ll host a team that has twenty-seven wins in thirty six games. I can’t even figure out how many points that is without a graphing calculator, but when you’re winning 75% of your total games on the season, things are working out.

Let’s go to the tape.

The Oilers are saying

“I’m not sure either one is going to work long-term but I know if I get him up tempo-wise, with the way his conscience is on the ice defensively, he’s going to make a good teammate...So, why not play him with the fastest player on the team and maybe the League and see if he can keep up?”

Source

Oilers coach Ken Hitichcock comments on getting Jesse Puljujarvi on the top line.

Puljujarvi churned out a goal in Edmonton’s loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday on ten minutes of ice time. Today, he’ll play alongside the best player in the world and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the top line. I’m calling it the 90s line. It’s a sweeping sensation. Have at it.

The Lightning are saying

“There’s nothing you can do but try to work yourself out of it when things aren’t going well,” ...We’re not a team that’s just going to bury our heads and quit. We came in here after the first, that’s not the standard that we play with in here and we found a way to turn it around. We’ve done that multiple times this year. We’ll correct some things, but we showed the character to come back.”

Source

That’s Lightning captain Steven Stamkos after last night’s 5-4 shootout win in Calgary.

Calgary got a 3-1 leg up on Tampa Bay early on before T.J. Brodie ended up putting one in his own net. Alex Killorn had another one for Tampa Bay as well. J.T. Miller was the difference maker in the shootout.

The Lightning are 13-1-1 in their last fifteen. Sounds kinda nice actually. They’re playing their second game in as many nights, can the Oilers take advantage?

HAVE SOME OF THIS

  • After two consecutive losses, the roster got quite a workout. Not much can be done on defence (Jason Garrison’s still in the lineup with Matt Benning it seems), but you’ve got a top line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi yesterday in practice. The second line’s got Leon running the ship with Tobias Rieder and Alex Chiasson. Can the Oilers start putting them back in the net?
  • Juhar Khaira has a couple of games in the cooler after cross-checking Vince Dunn of St. Louis. He’ll be back in a week when the Oilers take on the Sharks at home.
  • Did I mention that the Lightning have 27 wins in 36 games? Sheesh. Tampa Bay is scoring over four goals per game on average (4.03/g). That’s first place by yards, metres, miles. Nikita Kucherov has 52 points. Brayden Point has 45. Steven Stamkos rounds out the top three at 37. Things are OK in Tampa right now.
  • NET GAINS: Mikko Koskinen will go for win number 12 tonight (11-4-1, .928SV% / 2.18 GAA / 3 SO). He’ll face Andrei Vasilevskiy (11-3-2, .930 SV% / 2.35 GAA / 1 SO).
  • SICK BAY: Andrej Sekera (knee), Jujhar Khaira (suspension), Oscar Klefbom (finger) and Kris Russell (undisclosed) are out for the Oilers. Tampa Bay will be without forwards Mathew Joseph (lower body) and and Ryan Callahan (lower body).