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Game Preview #41: Edmonton Oilers at New Jersey Devils

Adam Larsson heads back to New Jersey, to face the team he started off with. Taylor Hall faces Edmonton for the first time. Here’s the preview.

Edmonton Oilers v Columbus Blue Jackets
Our old beloved, Adam Larsson.
Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

A very important Devils player meets his former team, whom he’ll look to come and play well against. That man is Luke Gazdic.

Jokes aside, Taylor Hall faces the team he was drafted with, and the team he had previously been with for his entire NHL career. Here’s the preview.

The Matchup: The Edmonton Oilers (20-13-7 SBN Blog: Copper N Blue) at the New Jersey Devils (16-17-7)

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Digital Audio – The One Jersey Network

The Last Devils Game: Without Andy Greene in the lineup for the first time in 350 games, the Devils lost to the Maple Leafs 4-2 last night. The first period was nothing short of abysmal. The first Maple Leafs goal came on the power play 9 minutes in. With some good passing, Tyler Bozak was able to tip a shot from Nikita Zaitsev, which rebounded off Schneider. Damon Severson couldn’t handle the puck, and it bounced to Kadri who slotted the puck into the empty net. The second goal was rather upsetting. Severson passed the puck to Schneider, who should have just shot it away. However, he held onto the puck for too long, and allowed Connor Brown to strip the puck away from him and easily deposit the puck into the net for a 2-0 Toronto lead. The period didn’t get any better - Auston Matthews and Tyler Bozak both scored goals with chaos in front of the net, and the score was 4-0 at the end of the first. Schneider was taken out of the game after Matthews’ goal, and Kinkaid entered the game. After the first period, the Maple Leafs let themselves sit back and play defense, so as to not blow another lead, which was mentioned by John before. The Devils finally scored in the 3rd period, with their first power play goal in 31 tries. P.A. Parenteau got the goal, for his 12th of the season. Jon Merrill then scored his first of the year with 2 minutes left, but it was too little too late.

The Last Oilers Game: The Oilers beat the Bruins 4-3. The recap from the Oilers’ SBnation can be seen here. Patrick Maroon had a hat trick, giving him 14 goals on the year, which means Patrick Maroon has more goals than any Devils player. To be fair to the Devils, that’s the same amount of goals as Connor Mcdavid and Leon Draisaitl, which I’ll mention later. The first goal was all McDavid, who dangled by the Bruins defensemen and fed it for Maroon to tap home. The first Bruins goal came off a slapshot which crossed the line. The Bruins then made it 2-1 with a Bergeron shot from the slot. Maroon scored his 2nd goal by outmuscling Adam McQuaid, and getting it by Rask to tie the game. The 3rd goal came from another Matt Benning shot, which hit off of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a 3-2 Oilers lead. Maroon’s hat trick goal came off a Boston giveaway up front, which Maroon easily deposited. Krejci scored to make it 4-3 on a 5-on-3, but it was too late, and the Oilers prevailed.

Youth Part Two: Just like the Maple Leafs, the Oilers have a bunch of youthful talent as well. Fourteen players who have played for the Oilers this season are 25 or under, and a good number of them are key contributors. Offensively, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl lead the team, with McDavid having 45 points and Draisaitl having 34 points. On the forward side, they have many young role players in the form of Tyler Pitlick and Drake Caggiula. Then, there’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who’s having a bit of a down year at the moment but is still dangerous. Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson lead the Oilers youth defensively, with each being praised this season for their contributions to the team. The Oilers SBNation has praised Matt Benning as well, who I know little about, but who appears to be a solid young defenseman. Benning has the 3rd highest corsi-for on even strength for the Oilers apparently, though I know nothing about what situations he’s put in. Tomorrow, we’ll get to see just how good these guys are.

For some reason, Jesse Puljujarvi is barely playing on this team. He’s played less than 10 minutes in seven of the Oilers last 9 games, and he played a Luke-Gazdic like 3:27 last game. He only has one goal on the season. A player of his potential should not be scratched, or barely playing in the NHL.

Greene-Less struggles: Without Greene on the penalty kill, the Devils suffered. The Maple Leafs went 23 on the Power Play, and it was evident that Greene was missed. According to Corsi stats, the Devils dominated. However, that was due to the Maple Leafs playing complete defense. The first period was dreadful, and the Maple Leafs powered their way through the Devils defense, and showed it to the tune of four goals.

It is unknown if Greene will play against the Oilers. Without Greene, I have no idea who would even have a shot at containing McDavid. Kyle Quincey, based on ice time, appears to be the next top choice after Greene. I definitely don’t want to see McDavid against Quincey tomorrow, so I can only pray that Greene comes back tomorrow.

The Devils Goal: Start off well, and go from there. Against the Maple Leafs, the Devils completely shot themselves in the foot in the first period. They played lackadaisically, and without the spirit shown in the Bruins and Hurricanes games. Four goals in the first period is hard to recover from, and the Devils couldn’t recover. Also, if there’s no Greene, the Devils have to tighten up defensively. The Oilers are 11th in goals per game, and 10th in goals allowed per game. They are very good but not incredible in both aspects. Because the Devils, with their offensive woes, probably can’t dominate the Oilers offensively, they should focus on tightening up and shutting down (or trying to) the Oilers forwards. After a woeful October, Cam Talbot’s been pretty good as of late, with a .924 save percentage in the month of December according to ESPN.

Starting Goaltender Decisions: After yesterday’s quick removal, I don’t know if Schneider will start against the Oilers. Personally, I’d like to see Schneider get another chance to redeem himself. However, this decision is up to Hynes.

With the Devils game having been yesterday, we know what to expect from the Devils in terms of change. There’s not much more to write about. Having Greene in the lineup would help a lot.

Your Take?: How do you guys feel about this game? Who would you like to see start? Would you like to see Josefson come in? Gazdic? I’m kidding about the last part, I hope Hynes gets the memo. Who do you think will play well for the Devils tonight? Who would you like to see lead the penalty kill? Let me know in the comments below.