NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Oilers vs. Lightning (February 23)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Oilers vs. Lightning (February 23) article feature image

Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Connor McDavid and Evan Bouchard

  • The Oilers and Lightning face each other for the first time in two years when they meet in Tampa.
  • The Oilers are surging under new coach Jay Woodcroft, while the Oilers continue their strong play.
  • Our analyst breaks down the matchup and shares her prediction and pick below.

Oilers vs. Lightning Odds

Oilers Odds+190
Lightning Odds-220
Over/Under6.5 (-110/-110)
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

In one of five games on the NHL slate on Wednesday, the Edmonton Oilers will open a five-game road trip at Amalie Arena against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Edmonton will be looking to bounce back from its first loss under new interim head coach Jay Woodcroft. Tampa Bay will play its first game in more than a week which will serve as a tune-up for Saturday's Stadium Series game in Nashville.

This will be the first meeting between the two clubs since Feb. 13, 2020, a 3-1 win for the Lightning in Tampa. They'll face off again in Edmonton on March 12.

Here's the latest on both squads and advice on how to bet the game.

Oilers Surging Under Woodcroft

It has now been nearly two weeks since coach Dave Tippett was shown the door in Edmonton. Woodcroft was elevated from his position with the AHL's Bakersfield Condors, and the Oilers won five straight before a 7-3 drubbing by the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

Since Woodcroft took over, Edmonton is scoring again — averaging 4.17 goals per game. Their 5-on-5 game has been excellent, with a Corsi For percentage of 58.19% and an Expected Goals rate of 58.48%. They're second in the league in both those categories, behind Florida — and this is despite having just gone through a heavy stretch of six games in 10 days under Woodroft.

Even more importantly, Edmonton has only given up 2.5 goals per game with the new coach, a major improvement from the 3.32 goals allowed under Tippett.

But fair warning: that's not to say that the goaltending situation has solved itself. Mike Smith, who turns 40 next month, is healthy. He wants the net but still gives up some stinkers.

Smith was pulled on Sunday after giving up four goals on seven shots in 13:38 against Minnesota. No starter has been announced yet for Wednesday's game, but Smith is likely to get the nod again.

And after starting the season with an otherworldly power play, Edmonton's special teams have been decidedly average since Woodcroft took over. The Power Play is running at 19.1% (14th) and the Penalty Killing is 79.2% (21st).

The Oilers' injury list is also quite substantial. Forward Jesse Puljujarvi is the latest addition (expected to be out for three to four weeks). Zack Kassian is also sidelined up front, along with Duncan Keith and Kris Russell on the back end.

Lightning Cruising Toward the Postseason

While the Oilers have been working hard to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Lightning have been kicking back, enjoying some time in the Florida sun and their position as two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.

The Bolts are tucked quite comfortably into the second spot in the Atlantic Division — and tied for fourth overall in the league, as of Tuesday afternoon. Their last game was Feb. 15, when they cruised to a 6-3 win against the Devils in New Jersey.

Now comfortable with the idea that the regular season is simply a pathway to the games that really matter, Tampa Bay's stats this season are good, but not earth-shattering. Their Expected Goals rate at 5-on-5 for the season is strong, ranked fifth at 53.71%. Andrei Vasilevskiy sits fourth in Goals Saved Above Expected, at 17.3. It's a tricky tightrope to walk, but the Lightning seem to aim to do just enough to win on many nights.

Just one injury to note: Zach Bogosian is sidelined with a lower-back issue.

Oilers vs. Lightning Pick

Will Tampa Bay look rested or rusty on Wednesday?

Returning from a week off at Christmas, the Lightning struggled in their first four games. They eked out a 5-4 overtime win over last-place Montreal, then lost 9-3 to Florida and dropped both games of a home-and-home against the New York Rangers. They lost in a shootout at home and were shut out at Madison Square Garden.

Broadly speaking, the Lightning are a formidable foe, and they have shown the ability to learn from their setbacks — look at how they recovered after their 2019 first-round playoff sweep.

The Oilers are a desperate team that has responded well to Jay Woodcroft — but that recent loss to Minnesota underscores that Edmonton can still be vulnerable against opponents with lots of firepower — and the Lightning check that box.

The Oilers' chances of getting the upper hand in this game are much better than the 34.5% probability that the oddsmakers are assigning, and you'll get a crack at a nice potential payday if you back Edmonton on the moneyline.

But for a safer bet, I think the over of 6.5 is well within reach — and still a solid potential payout at close to even money.

Pick: Over 6.5 (-110); play down to -125

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