Final Score: New Jersey Devils 5, Edmonton Oilers 2
Trade is one for one: Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 29, 2016
The New Jersey Devils are one of a handful of teams around the NHL that are going through an existential goaltending crisis. Starter Cory Schneider is still out recovering from an injury that reportedly plagued him for well over a year, leaving them with hilarious Twitter personality (but mediocre starting goaltender) Keith Kinkaid and the maligned Eddie Lack.
Given that Kinkaid’s career has been characterized more by his emoji-filled game recaps than by his stellar play, this should have been a significant tactical advantage for the Oilers. Between Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl alone, the speed and offensive skill should have been totally elusive for a guy who allowed four goals the last (and only other) time he faced Edmonton.
In a game ripe with recent controversy a la blockbuster trades and excited Swedish fans, though, things… didn’t go quite as planned.
It didn’t take long for the Devils to get things started.
Just under a minute into the game, Kyle Palmieri managed to walk right in on Cam Talbot, going top shelf to make it a 1-0 game:
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) October 6, 2018
The Oilers seemed to get things going briefly after that, with a beautiful sequence from McDavid giving Milan Lucic an easy net-front goal on their first power play of the game. It was an incredible individual effort from the captain, who nearly went end-to-end before circling behind the net to feed Lucic out front.
The Oilers would manage to maintain their 1-1 score for the rest of the period – but in the following two frames, the wheels really came off.
The Oilers had only managed seven shots on goal in the first period, despite getting three different power-play opportunities.
When Jesse Puljujarvi took an interference minor just prior to the two-minute mark in the second, though, the Devils took no time pulling back out in front. Kyle Palmieri scored his second of the day after the Devils took control of the face-off, getting a feed up high from Will Butcher to rifle one past Talbot again.
From there, the Oilers would allow their first of two more consecutive goals from the same player, with the 33-year-old Travis Zajac scoring just over a minute later to put the Devils up 3-1.
Despite now being down by two goals, the Oilers managed just four shots all period, which about sums it up.
Connor McDavid has logged more ice time than every #oilers defencemen in this game — 22:41, with 4:38 still left in regulation.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 6, 2018
Travis Zajac would score his second of the game five minutes into the period, joking after the game that youngster Miles Wood’s speed helps him compensate for now being so slow.
Not all hope was lost, as the Oilers managed to get one more goal in before the game ended. Milan Lucic corralled the puck after a save by Talbot, turning the play back up the ice for an ominous-looking 3-on-2 by himself, McDavid, and Leon Draisaitl.
His pass to McDavid moved the play up the ice, then McDavid passed it quickly to Draisaitl in the offensive zone to beat Kinkaid cleanly in order to pull back within two goals.
Ultimately, though, the slight burst of offense from Edmonton in the final period of the game was still lukewarm at best. With just eight recorded shots on the period in their desperate bid to stay in the game, the Oilers allowed one final goal by Stefan Noesen in the final two minutes of the game to close things out.
- It wasn’t Talbot’s best showing, but there’s a small consolation in that it wasn’t exactly a lights-out performance from Keith Kinkaid on the other side, either. The Oilers still fundamentally lacked the defensive support to really give Talbot a helping hand, but it wasn’t like their back end play was somehow letting down an elite offensive drive. Like last year, it looks like there’s still a concerning lack of secondary offensive support on the roster – and that’s not Talbot’s fault.
- The power play wasn’t enough to stymie New Jersey’s defense, who shut down the man advantage every time Edmonton got a chance to get something going. Although their first power-play was ultimately successful, New Jersey managed to prevent another goal for the remaining three power-play chances; if Edmonton had managed to get things rolling there, the game could have gone quite differently.
- I’m not exactly optimistic about what Mikko Koskinen can do, but that becomes an even bigger problem if Talbot continues to struggle like he did last year. The entire team lacked playoff presence (excluding Connor McDavid, obviously), but Talbot’s play for large stretches last year was a big contributor to their low season finish. It’s only the first game, but his performances will likely come under scrutiny if he continues to lack that game-changing edge Edmonton saw his first year with the team.
- It was pointed out by Jason Gregor on Twitter already, but the Oilers need to up their communication if they expect to hang with… well, anyone this year. Their passing looked disjointed and lacked much of an air of confidence or completion, which could leave the team scrambling when they face some of the even more dominant opponents out west. New Jersey wasn’t the easiest opener, but Edmonton’s going to find even more trouble trying to navigate through Nashville’s defense or suppress San Jose’s impressive arsenal.
16 minutes into the second period. pic.twitter.com/dCfsNKBj6e
— The Towel Boy (@TheTowelBoy) October 6, 2018
I can only imagine the profanity passing @jsbmbaggedmilk 's beet-stained lips as he scolds Frank in the wake of this loss.
— Robin Brownlee (@Robin_Brownlee) October 6, 2018
I’m doing 100 crunches for every goal scored against us and not eating sugar until we hit .500. This season I’m either gonna be hot and sad or happy and in garbage shape.
— Alice Moran (@Alice_Moran) October 6, 2018
After this performance, I feel like oilers fans should be allowed to slap someone in management across the face.
— Baggedmilk – Oilers Beet writer (@jsbmbaggedmilk) October 6, 2018
Another year pic.twitter.com/WIsH7KCwTj
— Cam Lewis (@cooom) October 6, 2018
— Joachim Chau (@joekdo) October 6, 2018
How does Chia mention Tobias Reider by name as an answer to our problems and not Connor's back to back scoring titles as being a plus pic.twitter.com/ZTZETIwS6T
— Wanye (@WanyeGretz) October 6, 2018
— Robin Brownlee (@Robin_Brownlee) October 6, 2018