Oilers vs. Devils Postgame: Beautiful

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.

  • Bucknuck

    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.

  • Homie

    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.

      • Rob...

        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.

  • skoalpatrol

    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??

  • DoubleJ

    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.

  • @ 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.

  • Slapshot

    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.

  • Lofty

    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.

  • Jmask5

    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.

  • 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.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    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…..

  • 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.

  • Lofty

    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 .

  • Lofty

    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.

  • @ Boundz:

    And for that matter, I don't think I'm especially negative; it's just difficult to put lipstick on a pig. If they were fourth in the West you'd be hearing a much different table.

    For instance, even though all the underliers indicated the 6-2-1 run and the five game road winning streak were largely unearned wins, I didn't make a point of stressing the negatives during those runs, because I knew they wouldn't last and everyone might as well enjoy them while they can.

    • Lofty

      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

  • @ Boundz:

    No, the post is shorter because I have to work in the morning and circumstances forced me not to start watching the game until nearly 11:00.

    Nothing nefarious about it. I just have a life and it intrudes upon occasion.

  • Tracie

    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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.