Edmonton Oilers vs. New Jersey Devils (1 p.m. MT, SNW)

If you’re anything like me, you were probably excited to see another morning on the schedule as our beloved Edmonton Oilers take on the New Jersey Devils in a New Year’s Eve rematch.

The last time these two teams met, the Edmonton Oilers lost what can only be described as a painful loss to a team that I personally believe they should beat more often than not. As has been the story all too often this year, the Oilers were guilty of downplaying their competition and the Devils ended up making them pay with a loss that was both costly for missed runs and generally annoying to our health. collective mind. It’s the kind of defeat that would have been completely avoidable had the boys managed to make a save or two, but that’s not what happened and this afternoon’s rematch will be the chance to a little revenge. The good news is the boys are playing good hockey these days, and I like our chances of getting the job done.

While I’m going to say here and now that the Oilers should be the Devils this afternoon, that’s something that’s always easier said than done. If we’re going to celebrate a fifth straight win, the boys will have to execute their game plan at a high level, get a good goaltender and avoid giving away the puck with sloppy plays or poor decisions. Keep it simple, pull from the parking lot. The last time these teams met was Dec. 31 in New Jersey, and if you remember, the Oilers lost 6-5 in overtime because they were loose in their own end and in the netting, which was almost a proper kick to the shin. of what has been a miserable December. These days, the Oilers have six players on three-game or longer point streaks, and if Mikko Koskinen can establish a solid foundation between the posts, I see no reason why we shouldn’t celebrate a win.

Let’s see what the numbers say.

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NUMBERS

Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancy at 5×5)

ALIGNMENTS…

Lubricators

Kane–McDavid–Yamamoto
Hyman–Draisaitl–Puljujarvi
Foegele–Rive–Ryan
Archibald–McLeod–Kassian

Nurse – Ceci
Keith Bouchard
Russell–Barrie

Koskinen

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Why fix what isn’t broken? In addition to putting Mikko back between the pipes, it makes sense to me for Woodcroft to continue with what works. Let’s see what happens during the face-off.

Devils

Sharangovich–Hughes–Bratt
Tatar–Hischier–Mercer
Vesey–Boqvist–Bastian
Geertsen-McLeod-White

Siegenthaler–Severson
Graves – Hamilton
Smith–Subban

daws

As much as I’ve said the Devils are horrible throughout this post and beyond, they’re a team with all kinds of speed in their roster and that will present a challenge for the Oilers as it will force them to step up their grip. decision a bit. If the boys get sloppy with the puck, the Devils will be all over them and have a handful of players who will burn you out if given the chance. For Edmonton to extend its winning streak to five games, it will need to play a simple, patient game that eliminates New Jersey’s ability to generate rushing chances. The good news is that it’s incredibly doable and anything other than a colon will be a hell of a shame.

WHAT THEY SAY…

From All About the Jersey:

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The New Jersey Devils need goalie help. There is a possible future with Daws. The last two starts have brought him back to Earth, to use an expression, but he’s had enough good performances to at least keep starting Gillies again for now. Schmid’s AHL numbers should warrant another look; his four starts this season should not sink him completely. I don’t think the Devils can afford to wait to find out if Daws can continue like this or if Schmid has improved with more experience.

Since Blackwood and Bernier are injured, the situation is more delicate. Although they both made stinkers as starters, they also provided good legitimate plays. That’s what’s lost when looking at total save percentage over a season. A few really bad games can sink as much as a few really great games can uplift it. Blackwood has shown over the course of this season how amazing he can be and how appalling he can be. Knowing that he wasn’t 100% and was still starting with Ruff, the situation is really disconcerting. If he returns, will he really be healthy or fairly healthy in Ruff’s eyes? More importantly, would he perform better than he did? If the answer to that question is no, then New Jersey needs to move on. Ditto for Bernier; although the Devils can’t see him play until next season. That Fitzgerald acquires a goalkeeper will be rather indicative of how he sees both Blackwood and Bernier. Still, Fitzgerald certainly can’t just stick with the status quo if we agree the goalkeeper was horrible – which he was. I don’t envy his position.

THIS EVENING…

Photoshop: Tom Kostuk

Game day prediction: Nothing starts on a Saturday like a 4-2 Oilers win.

Obvious game day prediction: Power-play goals will be scored, but I have no idea for whom.

Not-so-obvious game-day prediction: Josh Archibald scores his first goal of the year.

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