With eleven games on the slate in the NHL, there's plenty to choose from for hockey fans Thursday night. With the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Edmonton Oilers there are two offensive strong teams facing each other, but they both miss important forwards. Which one of them grabs the win in this important phase of the season?
Tampa Bay Lightning: on a 8-game win streak
The Tampa Bay Lightning played extremely well last year. After an impressive regular season, the Bolts surprisingly went down in the first round of the playoffs. Due to this blow Tampa Bay started the current season inconstantly, but is currently in her best shape. The hockey team is riding an eight-game win streak, the last defeat dates back to January 27, when the Lightning lost in Dallas against the Stars.
Earlier this week, Tampa Bay recorded two good wins against the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both away games of the Bolts were won by 2-1 in overtime. Due to the recent excellent performances, the Lightning has moved up to second place in the Atlantic Division. The gap with the Boston Bruins, who lead the division, has been reduced to three points and on top of that Tampa Bay has one game in hand. The absence of three important offensive forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli) for tonight's game, will be a blow for the Lightning.
Edmonton Oilers: McDavid on the sideline
One of the surprises of this season in the NHL, are the Edmonton Oilers. It has to be said that the Pacific Division is not the strongest division, but the Oilers benefit from disappointing rivals with a current second place in the Pacific. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisatl turned out to be an unstoppable duo at the beginning of the season, but at the time when the production of teammates left much to be desired, head coach Dave Tippett decided to split them up.
Draisaitl is currently the MVP of the NHL with 89 points (32 goals, 57 assists), while McDavid is in third place with 81 points (30 goals, 51 assists). Last weekend, the Oilers booked a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators, but there wasn’t only positive news to report ‘cause McDavid suffered a quad injury and will miss anywhere from two to three weeks in this important phase of the season. Edmonton's captain was not missed last Tuesday against thhe Blackhawks, as the Oilers defeated the Chicago based hockey team with 5-3. Draisaitl lead the charge again for Edmonton, with one goal and three assists.
Oilers in regulation
Both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Edmonton Oilers have some offensive key players at their disposal. Tampa Bay will nevertheless have to do without Kucherov (70 points) and Stamkos (59 points) on Thursday night and miss another attacker (Cirelli, 39 points).
For Edmonton the absence of captain McDavid (81 points) and Neal (29 points) is also a big loss. The Lightning may have more depth, but the Oilers have proved against the Chicago Blackhawks that they can get results even without McDavid in their lineup. Tampa Bay is rightly the favorite for this game, but with the many offensive absentees in mind, there is value on a Oilers win in regularion.