G19: Oilers vs Devils - Seven Seconds
It is hard to screw up in seven seconds in most situations, however that is exactly what the Oilers did the last time they faced off against the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are currently on a 12 game winning streak but that was nearly not the case in game 5 of that winning streak against Edmonton. The Oilers had faced off against the Devils at home and were winning 3-2 with less than four minutes remaining. Edmonton made two mistakes and NJ did not hesitate to capitalize on both. At the bare minimum the Oilers should have been able to pull out a point from that game but instead left with nothing. Edmonton would go on to lose three of their next four games after that collapse. All of that is going to be on the players minds tonight.
Stuart Skinner once again will get the start tonight in a move that should not surprise anyone. I fully expect to see Jack Campbell get the start against the New York Islanders. Campbell has now had over a week off and needs to get back into some games but tonight is the wrong one to do so in. Putting a goalie who has clearly had confidence issues and struggles against a team on a 12 game winning streak is not a recipe for success.
Kailer Yamamoto also did not make the trip with the team which is a concerning development as originally it seemed like a guarantee he would be back for one of the games last week. The earliest we may see him would be on the 28th for the one home game against the Panthers before the team heads back on the road.
Malone and Shore were rotating the 4C position at practice and Murray and Niemelainen rotated the 3L spot but via Daniel Nugent-Bowman it looks like Malone and Murray will be the ones playing tonight.
Ryan McLeod has two assists in his last 5 games which is decent production on a third line, however I would like to see more out of him again. He has only 3 shots in his last 4 games. I like the physicality and control that the line of he, Kostin, and Puljujarvi are bringing but there needs to be a greater shot mentality from this line. Pulujarvi had 5 shots on net against the Lightning but since he has had two games with 0 shots, followed by 1, then 2. Kostin has averaged 2 shots a game in his 3 games.
I'm expecting a big game out of Connor McDavid tonight. It is weird to say that a player with 7 points in his last 5 games has dipped offensively but Connor has not taken shifts over like we are accustomed to seeing. That changed in OT against the Golden Knights as McDavid had another highlight reel rush for the game winner.
That is the play that will get all of the attention but on a whole I thought Leon Draisaitl was the Oilers best player against the Golden Knights. Draisaitl like McDavid hasn't seemed to have the same bursts of skill we are accustomed to seeing but for the whole game against Vegas Draisaitl was a thorn in their side, strong on the puck and making great plays.
Quick note, in terms of what I value on the blueline in a team. The Devils blueline is brilliant with a collection of strong puck moving and transporting players but none of them with the exception of Brendan Smith perhaps are what you would consider to be tough guys. The Devils have the fourth fewest hits out of any NHL team. The Devils are a tough team to play against but not because they lay the body at every moment possible. Their blueliners are tenacious, know how to properly get into lanes and strip the puck and then move it back up the ice again. Give me a player who can make a crisp pass out of the zone over one laying a big hit any day of the week.
Enjoy the game!