Edmonton Oilers: Previewing the Tampa Bay Lightning Matchup

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) battle for the puck in the first period of the NHL game between the Edmonton Oilers and Tampa Bay Lightning on February 21, 2017, at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) battle for the puck in the first period of the NHL game between the Edmonton Oilers and Tampa Bay Lightning on February 21, 2017, at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Edmonton Oilers will be facing one of the best teams in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Oilers need a win on their chase for a wild-card playoff spot.

After suffering an overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night, the Edmonton Oilers will be squaring off against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night. Facing off against one of the best teams in the league, the Oilers will need to be sharp at Rogers Place.

That has been the issue with this team all season long—their lack of preparedness in getting up to face squads that are known to start the game up in a hurry. It isn’t just starting the game off well, and it’s also maintaining that energy throughout the next three periods.

Weirdly, the Edmonton Oilers will be facing a team that they are aspiring to be in the Tampa Bay Lightning. Led by one of the best players in the world in Steven Stamkos with a group of talented wings, defencemen and one of the best goalies on the planet.

The Oilers do sport some promising talent led by the former reigning MVP in Connor McDavid, but they still have a lot of holes to fill—which must be addressed at the trade deadline. This game will be the toughest test the Oilers have faced all year-long.

Focus and Consistency

The one thing that the Edmonton Oilers will need to focus on this game is what I said earlier—being locked in the entire game. The Tampa Bay Lightning boasts the best offense in the NHL (3.56 goals per game) and is in the top 5 in goals against with 2.54 per game.

The Lightning is the type of team that will not beat themselves and loses a game, unlike the Oilers. That’s why it is critical for the Oilers to be engaged on both ends of the ice and try to create some chances off of their hits.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will come in waves, especially since they sport the best top two lines in hockey. The Lightning will score some goals, will have to see if the Edmonton Oilers can throw a counter punch to keep the game competitive.

Strengths

The Oilers can exploit that by winning the face-off battle, which has been the biggest weakness for the Lightning all year-long (currently ranked second-last in the NHL). If the Oilers can consistently win those face-offs, they will have a great shot in creating scoring opportunities with the high volume of shots they take per game—which is still in the top 4 in the league.

The one controversy that has surrounded the Edmonton Oilers the past few games has been the overturned goals by the NHL officials. That overturned no-goal at the last-minute of the second period against the Avalanche on Thursday was the deciding factor in the Oilers losing the game. The referees should have no say in deciding the outcome of games that can dictate the playoff future of a franchise.

You can sense the disappointment and anger that has enveloped the Oilers with how this season has transpired—and they especially don’t need the officials making dumb calls to be added to their frustrations.

We’ll see how everything happens tomorrow night and if the Edmonton Oilers can bounce back with a win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.