NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Tuesday night’s matchup between the Edmonton Oilers at Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports App by clicking here.
With Tuesday’s firing of Joel Quenneville, Jon Cooper, hired in 2013, assumes the title of the longest-tenured head coach in the NHL. Aside from the 2016-17 season, all Cooper has done is bring success to the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise.
Those winning ways have continued into this season with the Lightning second in the league in points with 21, thanks to a 10-3-1 start. That record has been aided by a common theme among Cooper’s team: strong secondary scoring.
Look at the current Lightning roster and their stats. Nikita Kucherov (5 goals, 14 points) and Steven Stamkos (4 goals, 10 points) are doing their usual thing. But atop the scoring list for the team entering Tuesday’s game are two players who are making themselves into household names. Brayden Point (8 goals, 17 points) and the newly-extended Yanni Gourde (6 goals, 14 points) are leading the way, playing huge roles in Tampa’s strong start.
The Oilers could use some more of that secondary scoring, and that’s been coming on after skittish start has seen them win five of their last seven. Connor McDavid‘s received some help as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (16 points) and Leon Draisaitl (8 goals) have been aided by Alex Chiasson (6 goals) and Drake Caggiula (5 goals). Meanwhile, Tobias Rieder has dished out six assists, with four of them coming as primary helpers.
Also, Goaltender Mikko Koskinen has won all three of his starts during this seven game stretch and helped lighten the load for Cam Talbot, who’s been a workhorse the last two seasons with 140 starts since the 2016-17 season.
Chiasson’s the interesting story right now. After being part of the Capitals’ Stanley Cup winning team last season, he found himself unsigned over the summer and joined the Oilers on a tryout in September. His play in the preseason earned him a one-year deal, but he ended up as a healthy scratch for the first five games of the season. Back in the lineup, the 28-year-old forward has been on fire scoring his six goals in his last nine games.
As Quenneville and John Stevens look for new jobs, the hot seat on Todd McLellan, a preseason favorite as first head coach fired, has cool quite a bit during this run.