Game Day #4 Oilers vs Devils
This is exactly the kind of game the Oilers have regularly lost the past two seasons
This in from Boston NHL commentator Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports, his latest power rankings of NHL teams, where has the Edmonton Oilers at second overall, the New Jersey Devils at 25th.
“There will be teams like Edmonton and the New York Rangers that get out to fast starts and will leave questions as to whether or not it’s sustainable,” Haggerty says.
Of Taylor Hall’s Devils, Haggerty says: “The Devils were an en vogue choice as a playoff team this season based on their offseason improvements, but it may take a while to see the new combination truly get going.”
On the Oilers, he says: “Who knew swapping out Milan Lucic for James Neal would be such a difference-maker for the Oilers? Six goals in three games is pretty damn impressive.”
At CBS.com, commentator Peter Blackburn has the Oilers ranked 12th: “I mean, if Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl stay healthy and James Neal stays on pace to score 200 goals, these guys might actually make some noise.”
And the Devils? 27th. “The Devils blew a four-goal lead to the Jets in the opener, then let up seven to the Sabres the next day. Cory Schneider is dealing with health issues already. Too early to talk about their chances of winning the 2020 offseason?”
At NHL.com, the Oilers moved into the “Super Sixteen,” ranking 11th: “Hit: Forward James Neal had four goals in a 5-2 win at the New York Islanders on Tuesday and has six goals in three games. He had seven goals in 63 games with the Flames last season. Miss: Defenseman Adam Larsson will be out 6-8 weeks because of a fractured right fibula.”
NHL.com doesn’t rank the weaker teams, evidently not wanting to seem impolite, so we don’t know just how bad they think the Devils are. New Jersey has three losses so far this year.
- Edmonton is facing a team that hasn’t won much this year and last year and also a team that is coming off a loss on Wednesday night in Philadelphia. So, the Devils are apparently a not very good team, and also what should be a tired team (though Philadelphia is only 90 minutes away from Newark). In other words, taking all that into consideration, this should be a guaranteed loss night for the Oilers. This is exactly the kind of games the Oilers have all too often lost in the last two seasons.
- Dave Tippett has yet to announce his line-up but barring any injuries or the return to health of Alex Chiasson, I don’t expect to see any changes in a team that was dominant against the Islanders, out chancing them 14 to 3 on Grade A chances.
- As for that #2 overall ranking from Haggerty, that could obviously change fast. The Oilers could easily have just one win and two losses now, as they were outchanced decisively against Vancouver and the Los Angeles game was evenly played, essentially a toss up. If Edmonton can get through the next three games with New Jersey, New York and Chicago with three points, that would be fine. Four or five points? We’ll be celebrating in Edmonton.
- This Devils team has some scoring talent: Taylor Hall, P.K. Subban, Damon Severson, Jack Hughes, Kyle Palmieri, Sami Vatanen, Nikita Gusev, Nico Hishier. It’s yet to get rolling, and I’m sure they’re telling themselves tonight would be an excellent time to start. It’s main issue is that it’s two two-way aces, Travis Zajac and Andy Greene, are old in NHL years. But beware a hungry and humbled team, especially in the NHL where the margin of victory is so slight.