In one of the most complete performances of the season by the Oilers, we look at three players who stood out in the 4-1 win over the Devils.
When it’s going good, it’s going good; there’s just no stopping the Oilers right now. They beat the Devils 4-1 on Sunday afternoon, to extend their NHL-best winning streak to seven games.
For some context, the Oilers only had one longer win streak in 2022-23, and that was the nine consecutive victories to close out the regular season. Regardless, the team is on a roll right now and are within three points of a playoff spot following Sunday’s slate of games.
The win over the Devils was one of the most efficient, professional and team efforts yet this season; nothing flashy, just about getting the job done. However, there were still plenty of standout performances, as we count down our top three players from the game:
3) Darnell Nurse
For all the criticism the Oilers quite rightly received for their defensive play earlier this season, Sunday’s game might have been their best effort of the season to date. Everything about their collective performance was outstanding.
Of particular note, the team blocked 22 shots and went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. Players such as Vincent Desharnais, Mattias Ekholm and Cody Ceci all deserve credit for the part they played.
However, for us, the top defenceman on the day was Darnell Nurse. In many ways the poster boy for the Oilers’ sorry displays at the back to begin this season, he’s been magnificent of late.
Of course there will be those who say this is how it should be for a seventh overall draft pick, with a cap hit of $9.25 million per season. However, this doesn’t take away from just how excellent Nurse has been of late.
Against the Devils specifically, the 28-year-old was the leader in so many ways. This included having team-highs of seven blocks and 24:15 of ice time. (Incidentally, both were also game-highs.)
Heck, Nurse even tied for the team lead with five shots, including one which hit the post. However, this was all about his defensive performance, which was highlighted by his hustle back to prevent what looked like a certain goal for Nico Hischier.
Postgame, the Hamilton, Ontario native was asked about the overall team defence and how stingy it’s been of late. Speaking to the media, he said:
"“The commitment to defence throughout the whole group, is the reason why we’re in the position of climbing our way out of the spot we were in. We’ve really committed and buttoned down on the defensive side, and that’s not so much sitting back. It’s playing a more simple game offensively and sensing danger when things are maybe not going to bounce in the right direction, or we’re not taking that chance (with us) we’re having guys back.”"