In the closing contest of Anaheim's five-game road trip in the Eastern Conference, the Ducks hope to continue building momentum through the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. Facing a New Jersey team that has been all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the Ducks seek a 2-0 season sweep after the other match up ended in a beautiful 5-1 Anaheim victory back on January 16.
Since the return of Sami Vatanen from injury, the revolving door of healthy scratches from the blue line roster has continued. Most recently, youngster Hampus Lindholm watching from the press box on Saturday's face off with the NY Islanders. Vatanen started this trend when he was considered healthy enough to play, however did not play in the game hosting the LA Kings back on March 18. Since then, Clayton Stoner, Simon Despres, and Cam Fowler have been listed as healthy scratches before Wisniewski and Lindholm, leaving only the alternate captain, Francois Beauchemin, as the only blue liner left in rotation. Who knows if this trend will continue, however every fan (and even Coach Boudreau) have been craving more stability, but with a different set of six defenders dressing for each game how can any foundation form?
Anaheim's goaltending situation also seems to be considered a "day-to-day" decision, with Boudreau clearly still an avid fan of John Gibson, however no one can deny the talent in Frederik Andersen. I have heard several people say that the Ducks have yet another showdown between two players, both fighting for the title of "Number One Goalie," however for many, the choice is still to put faith and, in turn, ice time in Freddie's corner. After his performance against the New York Islanders, as well as his collected and determined play in the overtime win versus Boston, there shouldn't be any question mark. Andersen is back from injury and, yes it took a couple games but, he has found his rhythm again. Just in time. So there shouldn't be any doubt, but we all know, especially after how much Gibson played during the last post-season run, Boudreau sometimes throws curve balls for inexplicable reasons. Of course that is long term thinking, it should surprise no one if Gibson starts today, being the second of back to backs.
On the injury front, the Devils are still without Ryan Clowe (concussion) and Bryce Salvador (back injury), both of whom landed on the injury reserve list in January. For Anaheim, the list is more recent with Tim Jackman sidelined with a lower body injury, and newcomer Korbinian Holzer still out with a concussion.
Both of these teams are meeting in the second game in as many nights. The Devils played in Carolina on Saturday evening, falling to the 'Canes despite opening the scoring with a Patrik Elias power play goal midway through the first period. The Ducks were hosted by the New York Islanders, and never trailed in a game that ended 3-2.
In their only previous match up earlier this season, the Ducks triumphed over the Devils 5-1 in the middle of January, with Jakob Silfverberg leading the team with two goals, including one on the power play. The three other tallies came from Hampus Lindholm (1+1=2), Patrick Maroon (1+1=2), and Corey Perry (1+0=1). The only goal that got by Anaheim's goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, was from Martin Havlat. After the first period, New Jersey's goalie, Cory Schneider, was forced to the bench with an upper-body injury giving the green light to backup, Keith Kinkaid. The Ducks outshot the Devils 40-15 on the night giving them more than enough opportunities to find the back of the net.
What Can We Learn From This Game:
Will the blue line roster ever be finalized? If Beauchemin does, in fact, get scratched then we can all rely on the revolving door to continue its cyclical motion, however if his name gets skipped over, maybe whoever is scratched in this matchup in New Jersey is the most expendable piece of the defense roster. This constant changing of who is dressing for the game and who isn't doesn't seem realistic for the post-season that is inching closer and closer.
Anaheim decides to scratch a forward and play sharpshooting defenseman, Sami Vatanen, on the wing next to Perry and Getzlaf, leading to the trio to tally a combined point total of 12 and leading the Ducks to a second blow-out victory.