Taylor Hall returns to Edmonton, the city he played for for six seasons, as his current team, the New Jersey Devils (16-18-8), takes on the team that traded him, the Edmonton Oilers (21-15-7), in their second and final meeting of the season. Their previous meeting was Saturday night in New Jersey, a 2-1 overtime loss with Miles Wood scoring the lone goal for the good guys. Coach Hynes has already confirmed that Cory Schneider will be in net tonight and Cam Talbot will most likely be in net for Edmonton. New Jersey is coming off a 3-0 shutout loss against the Florida Panthers Monday night and Edmonton fell to the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night, 5-3. The Oilers are a (slightly) better road team than home team so hopefully the Devils can come out with a win (at this point in the season, I’m not sure a single point can cut it).
The team flew out Tuesday night to help adjust to the time change and hilarity ensued as the team’s flight was delayed five hours until another plane flew in. Adam Larsson, the other member of the blockbuster trade, went out to dinner with a few of his former Devils teammates last night and I’m sure Hall did the same.
The team practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, and will probably either practice or skate today. Coach Hynes shook up the lines at yesterday’s practice and they do look very different from what we’re used to. Andy Greene and Vern Fiddler did practice with the team, although they won’t be in the lineup tonight. Karl Stollery and Blake Coleman were both recalled from Albany (AHL) and traveled with the team so the Devils are traveling with 14 forwards and seven defensemen.
The Devils are coming off a three-game homestand, in which they lost all three games and were outscored 9-3, including a shutout Monday night against the Florida Panthers. They now embark on a four-game road trip, with games against Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Minnesota. This road trip will make or break this team; if they can win and get points, they can find a way to get back into the playoff race but if they continue to lose and play the way they have, the season may effectively be over.
Because we have to mention him when talking about Edmonton, Connor McDavid has 48 points on the season and leads the league. He has two assists and 10 shots against New Jersey (no goals yet but let’s keep it that way). However, he isn’t the only player on this team that can score goals. Pat Maroon leads Edmonton with 16 goals and Leon Draisaitl has 15. The team is 5-3-2 in their last 10 games and have won three of their last four against New Jersey.
Coach McLellan mentioned to the press that there is a “good chance” both Anton Slepyshev and Brandon Davidson would be in tonight’s lineup. I’m going to safely assume Larsson will be in the lineup as well. Jujhar Khaira was also called up from Bakersfield (AHL); he has 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 24 games in the AHL this season.
In New Jersey’s last three games, only Wood, Jon Merrill (his first of the season), and P.A. Parenteau have scored goals; Parenteau leads the team with 12. Hall is still looking to get back on track offensively and has gotten progressively better in each game he’s played in the last few weeks; he had six shots in Monday night’s game and it would be fitting if he was able to score against his former team tonight. No word from Coach Hynes as of yet regarding New Jersey’s lineup tonight but I wouldn’t rule out anything just yet. Luke Gazdic may or may not be healthy scratch against his former team.
The Devils power play is still struggling, with a 13.3% success rate that is only ahead of Detroit in the league. Edmonton’s penalty kill is only 19th in the league with an 81% kill rate. A power play goal would be nice but I would take any kind of goal at this point and more than one would be even better. Need to make progress, right?
Tune in to see if the Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils can take two points from Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers tonight; puck drops at 9PM.