New Jersey Devils vs Anaheim Ducks - 10 pm
Honda Center - Anaheim, California
TV: MSG+ Radio: WFAN 101.9 fm, 660 am
After a lengthy break in between games, the Devils are finally back in action against the Anaheim Ducks. This road trip is no easy task for New Jersey, as they'll take on three of the best teams in not just the Western Conference, but in the entire league. Anaheim enters tonight tied for the most points (32) with Chicago. Los Angeles and San Jose aren't far behind, as they're both tied with 31 points.
Though this road trip will be a daunting task, this might be the perfect time for the Devils to take their game out west. In their last six games, the Devils are 4-1-1, with their only regulation loss coming at the hands of Ben Scrivens and the Kings, by way of a 2-0 decision at Prudential Center.
Some thoughts on tonight's game:
1. Contain Anaheim's speed. Welcome to Western Conference hockey. The Ducks feature speed upon speed in their lineup and will pounce on any mistakes and turn it into a goal. They're currently tied for third in the NHL in goals scored with 72. Corey Perry (12g, 12a) and Ryan Getzlaf (11g, 13a) have been virtually unstoppable. For the Devils to have any success, they'll have to slow down their attack. If the Devils can establish the forecheck, it'll go a long way towards doing that.
2. What else about the Ducks? Anaheim is 8-0-0 at home. That either spells disaster for the Devils, or something has to give at some point. Whatever the case may be, this is a steep task for the red and black. If there is one area where the Ducks falter, it's on special teams. Their power play is surprisingly ineffective at just 11.5%, good for 26th in the league. Their penalty kill isn't much better, as their 76.4% is 27th in the league. If there is a chink in the Ducks armor, (feathers?) it would be that they do give up power play goals. The Devils will need to use every man-advantage well tonight.
3. Defense, more vintage Marty, will be key. Down to only six healthy bodies, the defense for tonight will be Marek Zidlicky, Adam Larsson, Andy Greene, Mark Fayne, Eric Gelinas and Peter Harrold. This will be a tough assignment for that group. The Devils will need another strong performance from Martin Brodeur, in a game where he is going to face a lot of shots.
Prediction - Ducks 3, Devils 2 (SO)
Though the Devils have struggled some when they've had a few days in between games, they'll come out hard in this one. The Ducks lost to the Penguins 3-1 in their last game against an Eastern Conference foe. For the Devils, it's simple. They have to establish the forecheck and play a gritty game. If they find themselves in a wide-open up and down the ice sort of game, they'll be in trouble. The game will go back and forth, with the Devils scoring a late goal to tie it, but ultimately falling in the shootout.