Oilers vs. Devils Postgame: Beautiful

Jonathan Willis
March 08 2010 12:01AM

The New Jersey Devils are an excellent hockey club, in just about every way. Martin Brodeur’s in the twilight of his phenomenal career, but he’s still an above average NHL starter and arguably the game’s best puck-mover. Jacques Lemaire’s methods may never be popular, but they’re undeniably effective. And the forward corps features a surprising amount of firepower: Kovalchuk, Parise, Elias, Zajac, Rolston, Langenbrunner. Like I said, they’re a good team.

And the Oilers beat them cleanly tonight.

Even for a rebuilding team, there are highlights along the way and tonight was one of them. After a largely uneventful first period, the Oilers took control the rest of the way. Jeff Deslauriers was superb throughout the evening, with the highlight coming on an Ilya Kovalchuk breakaway which Deslauriers dismissed as though it were no big deal. Rocket Richard winner? Whatever.

The Brule, O’Sullivan and Cogliano line played a shockingly strong game, and the O’Sullivan-Brule connection for the Oilers first goal was a thing of beauty to behold. Dustin Penner joined Fernando Pisani and Shawn Horcoff on a shutdown line which got the job done, backstopped by Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney (although I can recall three separate plays where Gilbert made me nervous, he actually had a very good evening overall).

Over the last two games the remnants of the Oilers defence has looked surprisingly good, incredibly good actually, given what that collection looks like on paper. It’s been a pleasant surprise.

I was sad to see Dean McAmmond leave the game with less than four minutes of ice-time, grimacing from a Zack Stortini hit. I’ve always had a soft spot for McAmmond, a speedy player who always seemed to give honest effort during his time as an Oiler and who has turned into a very competent two-way player after bouncing around the league for a few years. He has always had rotten luck with injuries.

 

Oilers Three Stars

 

1. Jeff Deslauriers. Questions remain on his career potential, and it’s always an adventure when he goes out to play the puck, but the man deserves a lot of credit for tonight. The Oilers did outplay the Devils but Deslauriers faced an assortment of strong shots (including the aforementioned breakaway) and didn’t let the puck get past him once.

2. Gilbert Brule. Admittedly, the game winning goal works in his favour. But to my eye he was the most important player on a line that outplayed Parise and Zajac despite getting matched against them for the majority of the night. Any of he, Cogliano or O’Sullivan could be mentioned here; they cycled the puck well and ramped up the pressure in the offensive zone.

3. Robert Nilsson. Nights like tonight, pretty much any Oiler could get chalked in here without looking out of place. We saw the good version of Robert tonight, although he was only one part of a revisited (and effective) ‘Kid Line’ with Sam Gagner and Marc Pouliot. The goal in particular stands out; a beautiful play by Gagner to get the puck forward, a slick move from Nilsson coupled with second effort to get the puck across to Pouliot, and then a gorgeous shot from the Oilers 2003 first round pick to put the goal away.

 

Final Note

 

What a game. An unqualified pleasure to watch.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Gerald R. Ford
March 08 2010, 12:37PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

Good read from Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated about Brian Burke and the death of his son and in it he talks about how he and Lowe mended some fences afterwards.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1166489/3/index.htm

That's really nice to see. First Comrie comes home, now Burkie and K-Lowe are working to bury the hatchet. What an odd, odd season...

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#2 barnorth
March 08 2010, 12:20AM
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JW, do you think it's waaay too early to think that Ryan Whitney might be the fortunate recipient of being in the right place at the right time? I know the Oilers are hardly 'the right place', but it's clear that Whitney's been given a chance to be the man, and at his age and with his experience he's playing like it. Hopefully he'll continue to grow and the squad will do the same.

I've watched him play twice. It's done, I just glimpsed his entire career that's guaranteed to end in brutal dissapointment now.

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#3 Nail Yakupov
March 08 2010, 02:38AM
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I was very shocked to find out that the Oilers won 2 in a row... especially by earning a shutout against the freaking Devils! It sure is great to see them finally get on the win column. I don't know whether to attribute it to the arrival of the new Oilers, or the fact that they really have no pressure to play and can just have fun out there. Here's hoping they don't go on a tear!

Unfortunately, there's more bad news on the injury front: TSN is reporting that Jones is likely out for the rest of the season.

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#4 Boundz
March 08 2010, 06:33AM
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Funny - nothing really to criticize about this game, so the posts dry up. Almost standard, and a little sad that the negative always is a hot topic, but the positive is not...

B

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#5 Tracie
March 08 2010, 07:10AM
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What a great game to watch tonight! Of course i"m still hoping that we stay in last place to shore up Taylor or Tyler, but games like these every once in awhile remind us that there is still a bit of hope!

Great game boys!

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#8 Reagan
March 08 2010, 07:34AM
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Good Game. Don't pass the TML.

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#9 Lofty
March 08 2010, 07:42AM
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Time to bench Brule and Comrie again. This winning has to stop until the Leafs get a few more points.

It's kinda interesting that the Oil have only given up 1 goal against since they got rid of 2 offensive Dmen. Its only been 2 games but its nice to see the GA come down.

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#10 madjam
March 08 2010, 08:07AM
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Did someone forget to tell the remaining players we are playing for a top draft pick now ? Our team just can't do anything right ? Willis - what was meant by Tams reference to a "toxic dressing room " ? What is it , who is/was responsible for it , and is it being cleared up or addressed now ,or is it going into our future seasons ? Right now ,it is looking like this winning streak might continue for awhile yet, despite what we look like on paper .

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#11 Bill Rizer
March 08 2010, 08:21AM
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A very surprising game. Even more surprising was that I was able to watch the entire thing without wanting to shoot myself. Not having any pressure might make this young team a bit dangerous down the stretch.

Personally what it showed was that I won't be taking any Devils in my playoff pools. Adding Kovalchuk looked good on paper, but so far the chemistry just isn't there. Plus Brodeur, as great as I think he is, has started to look ordinary. Couple that with a defense core that isn't nearly as talented as in previous seasons and they are a first round upset waiting to happen.

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#12 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
March 08 2010, 08:22AM
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Nail Yakupov wrote:

I was very shocked to find out that the Oilers won 2 in a row... especially by earning a shutout against the freaking Devils! It sure is great to see them finally get on the win column. I don't know whether to attribute it to the arrival of the new Oilers, or the fact that they really have no pressure to play and can just have fun out there. Here's hoping they don't go on a tear!

Unfortunately, there's more bad news on the injury front: TSN is reporting that Jones is likely out for the rest of the season.

Yep - it was just on sportscentre. Jones out for the remainder of the season with a torn MCL from the Boogaard knee-on-knee hit.

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#13 magisterrex
March 08 2010, 08:28AM
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Let's see, reasons why the Oilers won 2 games in a row:

1. Captain "Clutch (and Grab)" Moreau isn't on the ice. 2. Grebs, the amazing turnover machine, is no longer on the team. 3. JDD woke up and decided that he was a NHL goaltender.

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#14 BUCK75
March 08 2010, 08:48AM
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It's nice to see them win once in a while. I am amazed at how well they are playing right now.

But after the eastern road trip (Bluejackets game) they are playing games against play-off or teams fighting for a play off position. It might be the last home game they win. 2 games against the Red Wings, Wild, & the Ducks. On paper they have a pretty tough schedule to finish the year.

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#15 Jmask5
March 08 2010, 09:24AM
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That play by Nilsson showed me that when he wants to he can do whatever he wants. I hate when he shows these flashes of brilliance. Just when I've written him off and accepted that the Oilers may get rid of him he goes and makes a play like the one he made last night and I start to wonder. Maybe he can be a good player. Same with POS. That was a nice play on Brule's goal.

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#16 roughneck
March 08 2010, 09:35AM
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Pouliot was good, he took some big hits in the first that in years past would have had him in fade mode, he displayed some resilience plus the dude has a set of hands. That toe drag before the tackling (non called) in the third was stellar. It was kind of weird how the cogs line was beneficiary of some of the softest and lamest turnovers I can ever remember from a Devil team, they were Garbagecough- esque. That gift to cogs at the end of the second was bizarre.

Very entertaining game.

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#17 Boundz
March 08 2010, 09:38AM
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@Jonathan Willis

JW, my comment was not directed at your article, but rather to the readers of ON. If the Oil stunk the joint out again, we'd see a hundred comments. They play decent, and comments are few and far between.

BTW, your articles are pretty much "spot on" when it comes to the Oil, in my view. Keep it up.

B

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#18 6 ring circus
March 08 2010, 09:43AM
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As bad as Edmonton has been playing what is the Leafs excuse? The Oilers have lost players it seems on a nightly basis, as for Toronto they are just brutal,unfortunatley for us, that means we will finish 29th and lets just hope we end up with the 2nd over all pick, after watching this disappointing season to end up with the 3rd pick would be brutal for the Oilers.

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#20 rubbertrout
March 08 2010, 10:56AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Boundz:

Thanks for clarifying; I know I can get overly negative on occasion and it's something I try to keep in check.

I suspect it's just the 'blowing off steam' effect. The team plays well, they win, and I smile, feel good, and am content. When they lose I want to point fingers at the reasons why they lost and get it off my chest. I'd guess most fans are the same.

I think it is also a factor of the timing of it all. The trade deadline is over so we've beaten the moves made to death already. There is no real prospect for discussion about what happens next because most of us are simply waiting for the string to be played out.

Once Eberle starts playing there will be something of interest to talk about but at the moment it isn't much fun evaluating who is playing to avoid being bought out. Once the playoffs are over and we can trade again then I expect the message boards will heat up again.

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#21 DoubleJ
March 08 2010, 10:59AM
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I like winning too, but they need to stay in last place with their luck if the Oilers would get bumped to third pick if they end up second last after the season.

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#22 skoalpatrol
March 08 2010, 11:58AM
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another one of the brightspots in yesterdays game was the oil's puck pursuit and forecheck. very effective creating turnovers. nice to see for once

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#23 jake
March 08 2010, 12:07PM
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rubbertrout: "Once Eberle starts playing there will be something of interest to talk about"

I was checking the Swedish Elite League goings on and Timra (MPS and Lander's team) is 2 points out of playoff spot (top 8 get in, they are 10th with 2 games left, last one on March 13th). If they don't make it, would it be way out of the realm of possibility to see MPS for a few games?

Anyone smarter than I know if this might/could happen??

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#24 David S
March 08 2010, 12:12PM
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Hey Jonathan - FYI - I think Copper and Blue got hacked.

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#25 Dan the Man
March 08 2010, 12:18PM
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Good read from Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated about Brian Burke and the death of his son and in it he talks about how he and Lowe mended some fences afterwards.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1166489/3/index.htm

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#26 Homie
March 08 2010, 12:19PM
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Please Oilers, don't screw up and finish second last only to get bumped down one spot and pick third in the draft.

Missed the game last night, but was there on Friday. Whitney looks good. Waiting for the rumored inconsistency to kick in. FYI Lubo is -2 in Anaheim.

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#27 rubbertrout
March 08 2010, 12:52PM
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@Gerald R. Ford

Had to give you props for no other reason than your ultra-sweet avatar.

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#28 Rob...
March 08 2010, 01:00PM
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@Gerald R. Ford

No kidding. I've never seen a season where the mental resolve of fans has been tested this severely. I envy some of the bloggers here whose journalistic integrity sits them somewhere closer to being neutral in their team alliegance.

-I can't cheer for a win or even a successful play without feeling anger over their slipping grasp of the #1 or #1a draft pick. -I can't cheer for a loss, because it reenforces the idea that my team really sucks right now. -Even worse, for the first time in my life I find myself watching and cheering for the MapleLeafs. That kills...

And now an ugly rivalry between Kevin Lowe and Brian Burke is off the table. I think that was the only thing I could rely on this year as far as the Oilers are concerned.

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#29 Bucknuck
March 08 2010, 01:38PM
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I am happy that Burke and Lowe are mending fences. I am suer Burke has friends in the Board of Governors and it probably will make things a little smoother for the Oil without the animosity.

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#31 Harlie
March 08 2010, 03:12PM
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whtat's up with this party at the Pint thing? I clicked on the banner but it asked for a facebook login and I quit facebook years ago.

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#32 bingofuel
March 08 2010, 03:14PM
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@Harlie

You "quit" Facebook? I did that too, then I realized I work in marketing that that was dumb.

There's a party at the pint this Saturday for the Oilers v. Leafs game. Get there at 4:30pm to secure your seat! Drink and food specials for Oilers faithful!

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#33 Harlie
March 08 2010, 03:20PM
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@bingofuel

thanks man!

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#34 bingofuel
March 08 2010, 03:51PM
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@Harlie

No problem. Hope to see you there. If you aren't coming, I don't want to know about it. It will only hurt me.

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#35 Harlie
March 08 2010, 03:59PM
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@bingofuel

haha no sob stories here! Sounds like it will be a guaranteed good time. I hope to make it.

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#36 tlbest99
March 08 2010, 05:17PM
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magisterrex wrote:

Let's see, reasons why the Oilers won 2 games in a row:

1. Captain "Clutch (and Grab)" Moreau isn't on the ice. 2. Grebs, the amazing turnover machine, is no longer on the team. 3. JDD woke up and decided that he was a NHL goaltender.

don't forget we actually traded for 2 def. that can play defense, whitney has been the best player on the ice since he got here......way to go Tamby, now as a previous poster wrote, what ever we do don't catch the TML....god i don't wan to go through all this to pick 3rd.....

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#37 Wanyes bastard child
March 08 2010, 11:25PM
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@bingofuel

Is Poppa gonna be there?

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