Coming off Wednesday’s victory in Buffalo, the New Jersey Devils return home looking to keep their positive play going against the Edmonton Oilers.
Tale of the Tape
Record: 11-15-5 (27 points, 7th in Metro)
The Opponent: Edmonton Oilers (18-12-0)
FHN Site: Oil On Ice
Puckdrop: 1:00 PM ET
Venue: Prudential Center
Expected Goaltenders: Mackenzie Blackwood (6-6-3) vs. Mike Smith (2-1-0)
Television Broadcasts: MSG+, SN
The Oilers have cooled down significantly since starting the season 9-1-0. Edmonton has only won three of their last ten games stretching back to December 1.
Edmonton relies on their offense, spearheaded by superstars Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, to win them games. If their goal scoring is not there then, odds are, the Oilers are not winning. This most recent stretch shows that the Oilers do not possess the ability to win low-scoring games. In their seven losses this month, the Oilers have only been able to muster 11 goals while allowing 28.
A common theme in Edmonton’s losses is allowing scoring chances frequently and not getting timely saves from their goaltender. This proved to be their downfall in their most recent game against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. Goaltender Mike Smith allowed four goals on 33 shots in the team’s 4-2 loss.
Smith will be getting the start for Edmonton in today’s contest. In Wednesday’s loss, 39-year-old goaltender returned to the crease for the first time since October 19. Smith has started four games this season for the Oilers and carries a 2-1-0 record with 3.38 GAA as well as a .910 save percentage into today.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils played a very solid game against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday. The 4-3 win was the club’s first against a team not named the Philadelphia Flyers since November 20.
New Jersey came out motivated in the first period putting two shots past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. The Devils came out flat in the second period but rebounded nicely to beat the Sabres. Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt put on a show as they each potted three points in the victory.
For this young team to take steps forward, they need to be competitive against a team like the Oilers. This game is the beginning of a small stretch of games that will go a long way in determining how competitive the Devils will be the rest of the season.
Everything starts with limiting McDavid and Draisaitl. A team like New Jersey will never be able to shut the duo down completely but they can do themselves a favor by not handing them scoring opportunities. That starts with the Devils staying out of the penalty box. Edmonton is already lethal at even strength, handing them a man-advantage is asking for trouble.
New Jersey is expected to turn back to goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood for today’s matchup. Blackwood did not play particularly well against Buffalo as he gave up some bad rebounds and allowed some goals that a starting goalie is expected to make. The 25-year-old will have a large say in whether or not New Jersey has a chance to win.
Player to Watch: Jack Hughes
There has to be some level of excitement when two former first-overall picks matchup against each other. This will be only the third time that Hughes is matching up against McDavid, but he is a completely different player from the two prior games that took place only a month into his NHL career.
Hughes is coming off of a three-point performance against Buffalo in what was his best game as a pro. The 20-year-old has learned how to drive offensive play and become the focal point of a team’s offensive ability. Expect him to get big minutes pick up where he left off on Wednesday.