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Game Preview #62: New Jersey Devils at Edmonton Oilers

In the last game before the trade deadline, the Devils take on the Oilers.

NHL: DEC 31 Oilers at Devils
Will P.K. be traded at the deadline? Probably not, apparently.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (22-34-5) at the Edmonton Oilers (34-23-4). SBN Blog: Copper and Blue.

The Time: 3:00 PM EDT

The Broadcast: TV - MSG

Another Flu Bug

The New Jersey Devils have not had an easy time with illnesses this season. There was an outbreak of both the flu and COVID in December, which resulted in players sitting out for COVID and playing awfully through the flu. Now, a flu bug is supposedly spreading around the team once more - which led to several players and Lindy Ruff missing practice yesterday.

According to Amanda Stein, five players and Ruff missed practice for an illness not including Pavel Zacha, who was injured after a crosscheck to the back sent him crashing into the boards against Vancouver. Dougie Hamilton, Jesper Bratt, Nathan Bastian, Tomas Tatar, and Christian Jaros all missed practice yesterday. I hope that they are feeling better today, because I know the Devils will not be able to get any reinforcements in time for the game if they were even allowed to have them. They are going to play this game, sick or not. They will have Andreas Johnsson returning, whether he should or not, from his eye laceration that he got from a high stick.

Trade Deadline?

The Edmonton Oilers are sitting in a decent position right now, third in their division with a lead over the struggling Knights and the Canucks. The Edmonton Oilers could be a trade partner for the New Jersey Devils, but the Devils might not have anything they want. It has been reported that Tom Fitzgerald has not been getting many calls for Subban - meaning that this may not be his last game in a Devils uniform. Other players the Oilers may be interested in, like Zacha, Johnsson, and Tatar are either not playing tonight or are dealing with something that may affect their play. These strings of injuries and flu bugs probably could not come at a worse time if Fitzgerald planned on trading any of them.

It is what it is, though. The Devils do not have a lot of expiring contracts, and even fewer expiring contracts that they need to re-sign (and they’re restricted free agents, anyway). After tonight, the Devils will only have 20 games and it might not be the worst thing in the world to just see how well they can play against playoff hunt teams that are playing to win with their (usually) full-strength roster.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of today’s game? Will you be able to tune in? Do you think anyone gets traded after today? Do you think anyone would have been healthy scratched had there not been a flu bug? Has a Devils team ever dealt with this many instances of bugs spreading around the locker room before? How do you feel about the recent deadline news about the Devils? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.