First Period: The first penalty of the game came about five minutes in, after the Devils were mostly pinned in their own zone. Dalton Prout was called for committing interference at the blue line on a dump-in play. Sure enough, Connor McDavid made the Devils pay by taking the puck towards the net and firing a pass through the skates of Andy Greene, and Drake Caggiula buried the puck in the net.
About nine minutes into the period, the Oilers were getting (more) pressure on the Devils, and the puck was tapped by Caggiula to Adam Larsson near the blue line. The former Devil fired a shot towards the net, which redirected and scored by Ryan Strome.
Miles Wood jumped on the puck right after a faceoff about three quarters into the period, chipping it up the ice and using his speed to leave Matthew Benning in the dust. Wood’s backhand shot was saved by Cam Talbot, but Taylor Hall was there to shoot the rebound past an out of position Oscar Klefbom and into the net.
Second Period: Five minutes into the period, Jesper Bratt had the puck in the faceoff circle. Turning and shooting, the puck went inside the post and into the net. Bratt may have been helped by a Nico Hischier screen that prevented Talbot from seeing the shot. However, just a minute later, Oscar Klefbom bombed a one-timer from the blue line as he trailed the rush, and it went under the glove of Schneider. Controlling the run of play for the rest of the period, Edmonton killed most of the Devils’ hopes of winning when Milan Lucic got behind everyone and tapped in a shot by the post.
Third Period: Despite the third being the only period in which the Devils out-attempted the Oilers, Edmonton was still able to strike first in the period, with a Draisaitl insurance goal late in the period to make it 5-2. As a result, the Brian Gibbons deflection was only good enough to bring the Devils within two before Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tapped in an empty net goal after a pass by Taylor Hall missed and caused the puck to be sent back towards the Devils’ net.
The Opposition Opinion: Check out The Copper & Blue for their take on the game.
Abhorrent Defense: Damon Severson had a terrible game on defense. So too did Dalton Prout, and several other players on the Devils. But, I single Severson out because he hemorrhaged scoring chances against - the team allowed 20 when he was on the ice. No other player had more than 14 against while on the ice for the Devils. As for Dalton Prout - he took the only minor penalty of the game, which lead to the first Edmonton Oilers goal. He looked totally helpless defending a pass from Connor McDavid to Leon Draisaitl, and the best thing he did was take a fight which meant John Hynes could play him less.
Outstanding Defense: Adam Larsson had a great game for the Oilers tonight. He had one assist, three shots and nine attempts, 13 hits, and six blocks in 23:07 of ice time. He even created offense for himself against the Devils’ defensive zone play. The Devils forwards didn’t look very good against him, and he should serve as a reminder of what it can be like to have a right handed defenseman who is consistently good at playing defense. He was named the first star, and he well deserved it.
Other Fun Stats: Adam Henrique and Jimmy Hayes had CF% of 27.27% and 30.95%, respectively (Personally, I think Stefan Noesen should be playing more, but that might just be me). The next worst was Brian Gibbons at 42.50%. The Oilers’ 47 hits were the most of any team in a game this season. The Devils won 22 faceoffs today, and lost 44. All four first overall draft picks who were playing registered at least one point in the game.
What Needs Improvement: Too many things need improvement. Passing, defensive and neutral zone structure, faceoffs, and even just taking the puck to the red line before dumping the puck to avoid icings. The volume of shots that Cory Schneider is generally facing is probably unsustainable for a winning team, and it shows on nights like tonight. When I was watching the game, I just felt like I was watching a bad team play disjointed hockey. If just Taylor Hall were removed from this game, it probably would have been a disastrous blowout. The flashes the team showed throughout the game though, made watching it more bearable. That doesn’t mean I think we should feel good about where the team is going into Calgary.
Your Take: What did you think of this game? Did I miss anything? Aside from Hall, who did you think put forth the best performance for the Devils? Who played the worst? How do you think they’ll respond to this game when they next play in Calgary? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for following here or on the Twitter @AAtJerseyBlog. It wasn’t a win, but there will be more. Thanks for reading, and sleep well - it’s been a night. The Devils will be back Sunday (tomorrow) at 9:00 PM.