Devil’s Brigade




Happy Boxing Day! I hope everyone had a great Christmas and was able to spend time with their family and friends during the holiday season. I am lucky to be visiting my family in Edmonton and my wonderful niece and nephew treated me to the Oilers versus Habs game on 23 December. It was my first time at Roger’s Place in downtown Edmonton. To get to the upper tier, you have to take what must be the world’s longest escalator. The ride is so long that they could have people selling drinks and food during the journey. Once we found our seats, the sightlines were pretty good, no complaints there. The only issue I had was that in the upper tier, there were only two bathrooms. Two. The line-ups were eye-wateringly long.


There were tons of Montreal jerseys in attendance, which made for some fun chants; “Let’s Go Oilers”, followed immediately by “Go Habs Go”. The 50/50 prize was nearly $90,000.00. I’m always amazed at how much higher the payout is outside of Ottawa. In case anyone was wondering, I did not win the 50/50.


As for the game, it was just okay as far as entertainment value goes. Cam Talbot was very solid, while Antti Niemi was not Carey Price for the Habs. I kept telling the Habs fans seated near me that I really wanted to see Price in the game. I figured that it would take four or five goals, but Niemi wasn’t as bad as I had hoped.


All in all, it was great to see Edmonton head into the holiday break on a four-game winning streak. The season isn’t yet halfway in the books, but the Oilers playoff prospects are in serious doubt unless they can reel off a few longish winning streaks. They are only four points out of a wildcard spot, but they would have to pass five teams for that last wildcard place. Edmonton is six points away from third in the Pacific division, but would have to jump three teams. Not an impossible task, but it will be a very difficult path to the playoffs for the Oilers.


Enough about the Oilers, this column is supposed to focus on all things Eastern Conference. Did anyone think that the New Jersey Devils would be leading the Metropolitan division at this point in the season? The Devils are one point ahead of both Washington and Columbus with two games at hand. The Rangers and Islanders currently hold down the two wildcard spots in the East with Pittsburgh only three points back. The Pens are seven points behind third in their division.


The New Jersey Devils are a surprising ninth in the NHL with 3.14 goals scored per game, ahead of even the highly touted Washington Capitals offense (3.03). The Devils have the 10th ranked power play and fifth ranked penalty kill in the league.