The Oilers are back in actino today, as they face the Eastern Conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning. After yesterday’s 4-2 victory against the Panthers, the Oilers are looking to maintain their momentum on this road trip.
The season is all but over, and the players are essentially out there for each other (and next season), but there are still some bright spots. Connor McDavid is probably going to finish the season with 100+ points, despite playing on a mediocre (at best) team and it’s rare that he doesn’t do something spectacular in a game.
Keys to the Game
- Score first. Score often. Keep the puck with Connor or Leon because there’s not much else to hope for.
- Stay out of the box and try not to force the Lightning to take penalties either. The penalty kill is still real bad, and the power play isn’t much better.
- Force the Oilers to take penalties. It’s a strategy that has worked for most other teams in the league this season.
- Honestly, keep the Oilers to the perimeter. They can’t seem to get too many pucks through from the outside, so it’s easy to defend.
Players to Watch
- Ty Rattie had a great game yesterday, and was the team’s player of the game. In a postgame interview, he made a point of saying that he was willing to do whatever it takes to stay up with the NHL club. If what he showed yesterday is any indication, he’ll be up here for the rest of the season.
- Nikita Kucherov is likely going to be a Hart trophy finalist, and has been playing lights out for most of the year. He’s one of the better players in the league, and is sometimes overlooked because he has other very skilled teammates around him but he’s definitely been worthy of that MVP discussion.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Ty Rattie
Milan Lucic – Leon Draisaitl – Jesse Puljujarvi
Drake Caggiula – Ryan Strome – Anton Slepyshev
Iiro Pakarinen – Jujhar Khaira – Zack Kassian
Darnell Nurse – Adam Larsson
Oscar Klefbom – Ethan Bear
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
JT Miller – Steven Stamkos – Nikita Kucherov
Yanni Gourde – Brayden Point – Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn – Anthony Cirelli – Adam Erne
Chris Kunitz – Cory Conacher – Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman – Jake Dotchin
Mikhail Sergachev – Anton Stralman
Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi
One of the bigger disappointments this season has been Milan Lucic. He has 5 years left on his contract, and he is at the point where he’s well into his decline. There’s no chance of a trade or a buyout (thanks Peter), and his production is more than likely going to keep dropping.
For perspective, Jonathan Willis mentioned this yesterday:
LW Milan Lucic’s last 35 games:
1 goal, 5 assists, 9 minor penalties
Final 35 games of RD Mark Fayne’s EDM career:
1 goal, 6 assists, 6 minor penalties
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) March 18, 2018
The numbers aren’t great, and one can only hope that his deployment next season is more suited to his actual ability rather than his past skill.