Martin Brodeur will have his #30 jersey raised to the rafters tonight, and the Oilers will have the pleasure of watching the Devils honour the winningest goalie in NHL history.
Brodeur only played the Oilers 18 times, finishing with nine wins, six losses, one overtime loss and two ties, which wasn’t very much compared to how often he faced the New York Rangers (101), Philadelphia Flyers (92) and New York Islanders (91).
I’m certain Oilers fans respect Brodeur’s accomplishments, but the fact Justin Schultz is a healthy scratch tonight will garner much more chatter among the faithful of the Blue and Orange.
I wrote yesterday it was well past due for Schultz to take a seat in the pressbox. Continuing to play him was hurting the Oilers and Schultz. His confidence is shot, his competitiveness has always been an issue and over the weekend he looked defeated. A seat upstairs might light a fire in him, or not, but it was the right decision by Todd McLellan.
“He needs to watch a game and reflect on his play and what his impact is both offensively and defensively,” McLellan said this morning about Schultz.
It was the only change McLellan made.
“I saw some very uncharacteristic things, individually and
over the last two games that need to be fixed,” said McLellan. McLellan
also added the coaches are looking for leadership. He brought up his
comments when the OIlers made the captaincy change and the moments where the
coaches would be looking for leadership.
I read that as a challenge to his team for someone to step up and lead this team. Not just vocally, but in how they play the game. Don’t quit. Don’t be lazy. Make smart plays. Make aggressive plays and don’t give up when things go awry.
McLellan and GM Peter Chiarelli are still evaluating who they want in the mix moving forward, and while I’m certain they have a pretty good sense of who they want to keep, the final 28 games could weed out some others if they show they aren’t engaged when the season is slipping away.
He switched up three of the four lines, although I’m curious to see how long Pakarinen lasts with Hall and Draisaitl. I think we will see some shuffling of the lines, excluding the McDavid trio which remains the same. The Oilers were dreadful over the weekend.
Darnell Nurse and Adam Clendening will replace Schultz and Griffin Reinhart. Reinhart was assigned to the AHL, which is wise, since he needs to play rather than sit in the pressbox. Clendening needs to make an impression. If he has a solid game he could earn himself a regular spot in the lineup. Nurse is young and a game in the pressbox will help him. Many young players have been a healthy scratch, and I expect Nurse to play better than he has recently.
- The Brodeur ceremony starts at 4:15 p.m. Edmonton time. The entire program will last close to an hour, then the players will warm up and the game will start at 6 p.m MST.
- The Oilers have picked up a point in their previous ten visits to New Jersey. They are 5-0-1-4 (the one being a regular tie in 2001/2002). Their last regulation loss occurred December 10th, 1997. That is their current longest “point-streak” in any road city.
- I have long doubted the accuracy of Central Scouting, and when you compare their mid-term rankings to Bob McKenzie it is easy to see why. The top-ten prospects are pretty obvious, but Central Scouting depth rankings are horrendously inaccurate and have been for years.
- The Devils are still the boring New Jersey Devils. They are 29th in GF/game at 2.22 and are third in GA/game at 2.26. Their games average 4.48 goals per game. That is awful. They are 30th in Shots/game at only 24.4, and allow 28.9/game. Let’s hope tonight’s game is an anomaly and there are some actual shots, scoring chances and goals, but I won’t hold my breath.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Last night the Devils struggled to maintain possession and were on the backfoot most of the night. This left them susceptible to committing penalties as opposed to drawing them. A good start could go a long way in making sure they achieve this goal and not be forced to chase the game for 60 minutes. While this is easier said than done, they should have a decent chance of doing this against the last place Oilers.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers have two productive wins, followed by two ghastly losses. On Marty Brodeur night they find a way to keep their streak going in NJ with a 3-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall and Draisaitl combine for a goal. Hall has seven points in six career games versus the Devils, while Draisaitl has three in two games. Both had three points in the Oilers’ 5-1 victory on November 20th at Rexall Place.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hendricks is goalless in 25 games. Korpikoski hasn’t scored in 21. Taylor Hall is next highest at seven games without a goal. Hendricks ends his drought tonight scoring his first in 17 career games versus the Devils.
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