G25 Game Notes: Edmonton Oilers host New Jersey Devils

Photo credit:© David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
6 months ago
1. It’ll be a Sunday matinee featuring two teams who are rolling.
Seeking their seventh consecutive victory, the Edmonton Oilers are hosting the New Jersey Devils, who have won the first three games of a four-game road trip through the Pacific Division.
The Devils started their trip with a 6-5 win in Vancouver on Tuesday, went into Seattle and edged out a 2-1 win on Thursday, and beat the Flames by a score of 4-2 on Saturday. Sunday’s game in Edmonton will be New Jersey’s fourth in a different city in six nights.
2. The timing of this hot streak is somewhat unexpected for the Devils considering they lost top defenceman Dougie Hamilton to injury a couple of weeks ago. Hamilton was injured during a game on November 28 against the New York Islanders and the Devils have won four of five since.
The Devils recalled 2022 second-overall draft pick Simon Nemec from their AHL affiliate and the 19-year-old has played in Hamilton’s spot on the blueline alongside Jonas Siegenthaler. Nemec has one goal and three points through his first four NHL games and is logging 20:38 per game on average.
3. Unlike the Devils of the past, this is a high-scoring team that has a difficult time keeping the puck out of its own net.
New Jersey ranks sixth in the league with 91 goals, but they also rank 25th with 91 against, ultimately dead even. They’ve allowed the sixth-fewest shots against of any team in the league, but their goaltenders have combined for a .879 save percentage, which is tied with the Oilers for the second-lowest in the league.
A lot of New Jersey’s wins this season can be described as them outscoring their problems. They’re 13-1-0 in games where they score at least four goals and they’re 1-10-1 in games where they score three or fewer. Only seven times through 25 games have the Devils allowed one or two goals against and they don’t have a shutout yet.
4. The same is true for the Oilers. Through 24 games, there have been 11 instances in which the Oilers scored four times or more and 13 in which they didn’t. Edmonton’s only win from the latter category came on November 30 when they beat the Jets in Winnipeg by a score of 3-1.
Looking a little deeper, though, the Oilers have tightened things up defensively and have done a much better job at keeping the puck out of the net since Kris Knoblauch took over as head coach. Of the team’s eight wins in the Knoblauch era, seven have come when allowing three or fewer goals.
5. Facing New Jersey’s strong offence will be an interesting challenge for Edmonton’s improved team defence. The Devils are a difficult team to contain because they have offence spread around all four of their lines.
Jack Hughes and Tyler Toffoli on the top line have combined for 22 goals, Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt on the second line have 17, Dawson Mercer and Timo Meier on the third line have 11, and Alexander Holtz on the fourth line has eight (all at even strength) on his own.
This could very likely be a high-scoring game as it also features two of the league’s top power play units. The Devils have the best percentage in the league at 34.15 while the Oilers are sitting fourth at 27.38. Both teams are below league average in terms of penalty kill efficiency, though this an area the Oilers have improved in the Knoblauch era.

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