The New Jersey Devils are in desperation mode and it’s only October 10th. The Devils will try again, as they search again for their first win of the season tonight. After getting ahead 4-0 against the Jets in the season opener, the Devils haven’t been playing hockey. They’ve been sitting around being lazy with the opposition making it look easy. Since that lead, the Devils have been outscored 16-2. The Jets scored four unanswered in regulation and then buried two goals in a shootout to get the 5-4 victory. New Jersey have lost 7-2 to the Sabres and 4-0 vs the Flyers last night in Philadelphia.
There will be no time for the Devils to think about what happened because they’ll be right back out on the ice tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. That’s probably for the better, but the Oilers have been flying out of the gates and their speed up front could be an issue for the Devils. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are most likely going to pose some serious problems for the Devils’ blue line tonight. Don’t forget about James Neal, who broke out of his cocoon with a 4-goal showing against the Islanders in a 5-2 win on Tuesday.
James Neal has instantly looked more comfortable in Edmonton than Calgary. The Flames signed Neal to a hefty deal after having success in Vegas with the Golden Knights. However, the results didn’t come for him with the Flames last season and he was traded. So far so good with the Oilers, as Neal is making the most of this opportunity in Edmonton. Neal scored just 7 goals with the Flames in 63 games. After three games with the Oilers, Neal has notched 6 goals, including that 4-goal outburst. We’ll see if the Devils are ready to play tonight because they surely haven’t in seven straight periods. Head below for our free Oilers vs. Devils pick.
Edmonton Oilers vs. N.J. Devils Pick
What has been most discouraging for the Devils has been their defensive effort. The goals are eventually going to come again for the Devils. They have some decent talent up front on the forward lines who will ultimately get into a groove. However, the question mark with their blue line and goaltending is front and centre to open the season.
There weren’t many people too confident with their defence going into this season and their concerns have been on fully display thus far. Cory Schneider was off the mark last night, as he allowed 4 goals on 34 shots. Conversely, his counterpart, Carter Hart, was able to stop 25 shots for the shutout.
The goaltending situation looks awfully dicey for the Devils. If Schneider can’t get going or suffers a serious injury, which is a good possibility, that leaves the starting job to MacKenzie Blackwood. Blackwood is scheduled to get the start, while giving the Schneider the night off after performing on Wednesday night.
The 22-year-old, who showed some promise a season ago, has been way off the mark for the Devils. As bad as Keith Kinkaid was, he is no longer here to fill in, so it’d be all on Blackwood if something goes wrong with Schneider. Blackwood has been off to a cold start in 2019-20. He enters with a whopping 6.59 GAA and 0.80 save percentage in two showings this season. Blackwood yielded 9 goals on 45 shots. Overall, the Devils have surrendered an average of 5 goals per game for 30th in the league.
Blackwood has struggled to find success on the road in his career. While he holds a nice 2.26 GAA at home, his numbers have been shaky on the road with a 3.34 GAA in 13 games. I don’t have much hope for the Devils’ defence tonight, but expect the team to be operating in desperation mode.
Look for the offence to press all night. They must with Blackwood between the pipes. Mike Smith has made two outings for the Oilers and was way off in his most recent appearance. Smith allowed 5 goals on 32 shots in a 6-5 win against the Kings. This should be an up-tempo, entertaining contest on Thursday night. A 4-3 or 5-3 final score appears like a probable end result. With that in mind, the OVER should be a winner on Thursday in Newark.