The weekend opens with another action packed Saturday of hockey. Fourteen games are on the board for the NHL on December 22, which means that only three teams don’t play on Saturday. One of the games to end the night will be between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Edmonton Oilers.
Tampa Bay has started out the new season with an NHL leading 56 points. The Lightning have gone 27-7-2 so far this season. Tampa Bay has been red hot recently, winning two games in a row and fifteen of their last eighteen. The Lightning will look to keep this winning streak going with another win on Saturday night.
The Oilers had a slower start to the season, but have picked up the pace since coach Ken Hitchcock took over. Edmonton has gone 18-14-3, which has them in fifth place of the Pacific Division. The Oilers are also currently sitting in the second wild card spot. Edmonton has lost back to back games and three of their last four. The Oilers will look to turn it around on Saturday night.
Saturday night’s game will be the second and final game of the season series. Both teams are sitting in playoff spots early in the season, which makes me believe that this should be a good game. Edmonton has been in a bit of a slump recently, but I believe they could turn it around at home against the Lightning.
Tampa Bay and Edmonton met up twice last season. The Oilers were able to win the first game at home 6-2. Connor McDavid had a huge night, scoring four goals and adding an assist. The Lighting hosted the second game of the season series and were able to win 3-1 on Nikita Kucherov’s two goals. Each team was able to win their home game.
The first game between the Lightning and the Oilers was hosted by Tampa Bay on November 6. Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Strome each scored for Edmonton, but it was not enough. Nikita Kucherov had two goals and an assist, while Steven Stamkos had a goal and two assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy turned away 33 of 35 shots to give the Lightning a 5-2 win.
Even though Tampa Bay finished at the top of the Eastern Conference and the Oilers missed the playoffs last season, Edmonton was still able to win at home. The Oilers have had a better start to this season, which makes me believe they have a good chance to win at home again this season. Tampa Bay put up a dominant performance in the first game. Edmonton will look to bounce back with a win on Saturday night.
The Lightning have been off to a fast start in special teams this season. Tampa Bay’s power play has been one of the best in the league this season, scoring on 28.6 percent of their opportunities. The Lightning’s penalty kill has stopped their opponent’s 84.2 percent of the time. Tampa Bay has done really well on both sides of special teams, which has played a large part in their success.
Edmonton’s special teams have not been great this season, which has attributed to their recent struggles. The Oilers power play has been scoring at a rate of 19.3 percent of the time. Edmonton’s penalty kill has not been any better. The Oilers penalty kill has stopped their opponent’s power plays 76.1 percent of the time.
Tampa Bay has the clear edge on special teams in Saturday night’s tilt. While the Lightning’s special teams are better, I believe the Oilers can still pull off the win. Edmonton has been good at staying out of the penalty box for most of the game, but tend to take unnecessary penalties if losing late. If the Oilers can stay disciplined on Saturday night, they could beat the Lightning with five on five play.
I believe that Andrei Vasilevskiy will start in net for Tampa Bay. Vasilevskiy missed part of the season due to injury, but is now back and playing really well. He has posted a .930 save percentage and a GAA of 2.35. Vasilevskiy has gone 11-3-2 in his 16 starts this season. He will look to shut down the Oilers on Saturday night.
Mikko Koskinen will likely start in net for Edmonton on Saturday night. Koskinen has put up an 11-4-1 record in his 16 starts this season. He has put up a save percentage of .928 and a 2.18 GAA. Koskinen has done a really solid job this season and seems to have taken over the starting job from Cam Talbot. He will look to solidify his starter role with a solid performance against a tough Tampa Bay team.
I believe that both goalies will match up really well with each other. Both goalies have put up similar numbers both record wise and stat wise. This could lead to a low scoring game as both goalies shut down each other’s stars.
Tampa Bay has been playing really well, but I believe that they will not cruise to a win in Edmonton on Saturday night. While the Oilers have not been spectacular recently, they are at home and could turn it around with a big win on Saturday night. Edmonton’s goalie, Koskinen, has been doing really well and should keep the Oilers in it.
BetOnline has the Lightning listed as a -145 against the money line. This implies that Tampa Bay will win this game 59 percent of the time. I believe that Edmonton should be listed as smaller underdogs at home, which gives them a lot of value on Saturday. I am taking the Oilers as home underdogs.