After a win and an explosion of goals against the Kings on Wednesday, the Devils come to Honda Center for a rematch of their next most recent Stanley Cup Final appearance, The only difference is that this time the only ones who remember are behind the New Jersey bench.
The Devils are currently in an awkward position in the standings, 12 points behind a playoff spot and nine points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Since firing Pete DeBoer on Dec. 26, and going with the three headed coaching monster of GM/Ruler of All He Surveys, Lou Lamoriello, former hip checker extraordinaire, Scott Stevens and former Duck Great Adam Oates, New Jersey has put up a record of 2-4-1.
To underscore the situation the Devils are currently in, let's take a look at their first line, shall we? First on left wing is Adam Henrique, that's a good enough start, he's second on the team in points behind Jaromir Jagr and a relatively consistent young-ish player (24 years old). Next on right wing is Steve Bernier, probably best known for being the fourth liner, who handed the Kings the Stanley Cup on a silver platter with a five minute boarding major in Game 6. In fairness he did score two goals last night, but he also only has 12 points on the season. Here's where it really starts to go down the tubes, the New Jersey Devils' current first line center is ......... Scott Gomez.
Again in fairness, that is due in large part to injury/illness as Ryane Clowe, Stephen Gionta, Tuomo Ruutu, Bryce Salvador and Damon Severson are all on injured reserve and Eric Gelinas and Jagr are both out sick (questionable for tonight's game), but still not a good situation to be in.
For the Ducks roster, the biggest question is what is going on with Matt Beleskey? The, now, second leading goal scorer on the team was healthy scratched against Toronto on Wednesday in favor of Rene Bourque. The official party line from Bruce Boudreau is that it was performance based. However, while he hasn't scored in his last two games, he put up three points in the two before that. For reference, three points is half of Bourque's total production as a Duck, in 20 GP. So, excuse me for not exactly believing that.
What Can We Learn From This Game:
In the second straight game against a middling (to put it kindly) Eastern Conference opponent, we're all looking for more of what the Ducks showed on Wednesday. After months of one goal games, it was pretty luxurious to see the Ducks coast to a 4-0 win, even if it was assisted by the fact that the Leafs effectively shut it down after Corey Perry put them behind 3-0.
Against the teams currently in the 9-12 slots in the East, the Ducks have been shellacked by Ottawa and Florida, split the difference with Toronto and won two shootouts against Philly. The Devils are currently in 13th place in the East, which brings me to my prediction....
Despite the fact that they just beat the Kings, the Ducks will take New Jersey too lightly, trail going into the third, tie it in the later portions of the final frame and eventually win in a shootout, because the Devils suck at shootouts.