The Matchup: The Edmonton Oilers (4-8-2) take on the New Jersey Devils (4-10-2) at the Prudential Center. This is their first and only meeting of the season.
The Last Oilers Game: The Detroit Red Wings blew out the Oilers, 6-2, last night at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings built a 5-0 lead through two periods, marking the second straight game the Oilers allowed five goals. Dustin Penner and Theo Peckham scored third period goals to break the shutout.
The Last Devils Game: The Buffalo Sabres stole one away from the Devils, 5-4, in a shootout Wednesday night at the Prudential Center. The Devils held three leads in the game, but let each slip away. Tyler Ennis scored in the third period to tie the game, and the teams remained scoreless through regulation and the overtime period. Thomas Vanek put the Sabres ahead in the shootout, but Jamie Langenbrunner answered right back. In the fourth round, with the teams tied at 1-1, Derek Roy beat Johan Hedberg to give the Sabres the 2-1 advantage. Ilya Kovalchuk had the chance to keep the Devils in the game, but he lost the puck on his attempt and never got a shot off on Jhonas Enroth.
The Last Oilers – Devils Game: The Oilers defeated the Devils, 2-0, last season in Edmonton. Gilbert Brule broke a scoreless tie at 1:23 of the second period, giving the Oilers a 1-0 lead. Marc Pouliot pushed the lead to 2-0 with a goal at 8:28 of the third period. Jeff Deslauriers stopped 22 shots for the shutout.
For a look at the overall matchup between the two franchises, including historical stats, check our season preview post.
Marty Returns! Martin Brodeur will start tonight’s game after missing two and a half games due to an elbow injury. After what happened two years ago, I’m glad to see him coming back so quickly. Hedberg didn’t do terribly in the relief appearances, but it’s not the same without MB30 between the pipes.
Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils had their offense rolling Wednesday night, but they forgot the defense. That led to those three blown leads and a shootout loss. The number one objective tonight needs to be putting together a solid defensive effort. If they can repeat the offensive output from Wednesday and play some better defense, then the Devils would set themselves up for a win. But we’ve been asking for a complete game from end-to-end all season, and we’ve only seen that happen four times. Every Devils mistake is becoming a goal right now, so the Devils need these complete games to get their game going.
The Oilers, like the Sabres, should provide a confidence boost and the opportunity for at least a point. In their past two games, Edmonton has been outscored 13-3 while looking absolutely terrible. They’re last in the Western Conference, and while the Devils sit in the same position, I think New Jersey looks like the team more likely to break their skid. The Devils outrank the Oilers in almost every significant category, including goals against and shots for. The Devils need this win, especially on home ice, to inspire confidence and let them know that their offensive efforts are paying off.
New Jersey is still looking for their first home win as well. It’s killing me that they’re this terrible at The Rock. The fans are continuing to come out, and Wednesday night was a loud game. The Devils need to reward their fans and get something going on home ice. The Oilers are the perfect team to help get the Devils going in the right direction.
Jamie Langenbrunner will not play tonight with an upper body injury. Brian Rolston will return to the lineup.
For a view on the game from the Oilers point of view, check out Low On Oil.
Gametime is 7 p.m., and you can watch the game on MSG Plus or listen on WFAN 660 AM. Also, make sure to check out our live game thread, beginning at 6:45! Here’s a guess at tonight’s starting lineup:
Ilya Kovalchuk – Travis Zajac – Alexander Vasyunov
Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby
Brian Rolston – Dainius Zubrus – David Clarkson
Rod Pelley – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta
Colin White – Henrik Tallinder
Andy Green – Anton Volchenkov
Olivier Magnan – Matt Taormina