DAB Pregame: Struggling Devils Take On Surging Oilers

The Devils look to right the ship against the Oilers tonight. (Picture via Patty Nelson)

Match Overview

After a terrible three-game start to the season, the Devils travel back home to take on the 3-0-0 Edmonton Oilers. To say these two teams are trending in opposite directions to begin the season is an understatement.

The Devils have been outscored 15-2 since the beginning of the third period in their season opener against the Jets. They have looked dreadful at every strength and in each area of the ice. They must turn it around sooner rather and later, and it may be difficult to do so tonight as the Oilers have been great to start the season. In regard to the lineup, do not expect it to be clarified until closer to game time. If I were to speculate,
expect a different look, as well as Mackenzie Blackwood in net, given it is the second half of a back-to-back.

The Oilers have been a pleasant surprise to their fans early on in the season. They have outscored their first three opponents 14-9 in the process of their 3-0-0 start. A large part of this success is due to their excellent start on special teams. The Oilers rank fifth in the league on both the penalty kill (90.0% kill rate) and the power play (33.3% success rate). In terms of who to expect in between the pipes, Mike Smith (2-0-0, .892 save percentage) or Mikko Koskinen (1-0-0, .926 save percentage) will get the nod.

The game is scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM ET at The Prudential Center. It can be seen on MSG+.

Projected Devils’ Lines

As mentioned above, please check back to our social media pages closer to puck drop. The Devils do not have a morning skate, so we will not know any lineup changes until head coach John Hynes talks to the media later today.

Projected Oilers’ Lines

Forwards

  • Draisaitl/McDavid/Kassian
  • Jurco/Nugent-Hopkins/Neal
  • Nygard/Haas/Granlund
  • Khaira/Sheahan/Russell

Defense

  • Nurse/Bear
  • Klefbom/Persson
  • Russell/Benning

Goalie

  • Smith
  • Koskinen
Forward Jack Hughes will look to build on his solid performance from last night. (Picture via Getty Images)

Who/What To Watch

  • As a Devils fan, there was very little to be encouraged by last night. However, first overall pick Jack Hughes turned in his best performance – by far – of the season last night. He owned a Corsi for %
    (CF%) of 58.82 and an expected Goals For % (xGF%) of 51.95. Each were not only near the top of all Devils’ forwards last night, but also the highest he has had through his first three games. Hughes also anchored what was the Devils’ best line last night. Hopefully, the first overall pick can build on last night’s performance and play well again tonight.
  • The Devils’ special teams have been miserable to start the season. After they failed to convert on two 5-on-3 attempts last night, their power play is now 0-9 to start the season. Their man-down unit – which also ranks last in the league – has a successful kill rate of only 50% (5 for 10). As mentioned above, the test won’t get any easier tonight, as the Oilers’ special teams unit have been firing on all cylinders. The Devils must stay out of the box if they want to tally their first win of the season.
  • Forward James Neal is the hottest goal scorer in the NHL, as he tallied four goals in the Oilers’ last game against the Islanders. He currently sits atop the league, with six in total. He will skate on Edmonton’s second line tonight, and the Devils must ensure he does not continue this tear he is on.
  • I think it is impossible to talk about the Oilers without mentioning forwards Connor McDavid (eight points) and Leon Draisaitl (seven points). Thanks to this duo, the Oilers hold arguably the best first line in the league. P.K. Subban and Sami Vatanen will have a busy night trying to contain these two.
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