Best: A lead! Finally!
I’ll start with a positive. The Ducks finally took the lead for the first time this season! It even lasted for the rest of the 1st period! And part of the 2nd! Plan the parade!
Worst: Penalties penalties penalties.....and more penalties.
The Ducks gave the Devils the man advantage a staggering 7 times. I know the Ducks would like to take back the league’s best PK% from last season, but it feels like there’s much better ways to get there. This is the direct cause of the Ducks loss today. The team played a solid game at 5 on 5, but things got ugly on the PK, as both of the New Jersey goals came with the man advantage. Now is the time for Carlyle to show why he was brought back and bring some accountability to the team.
Best: Much improved power play.
While the Ducks didn’t do themselves any favors with the rate they took penalties, the flip side is that the team’s power play looked much improved. Several times the Ducks got set up in the offensive zone and created bouts of sustained pressure, something they have had trouble doing for the most part. This pressure led to Vatanen’s PP goal by keeping the Devils PK unit out on the ice for well over a minute in their own zone. The Ducks would ideally like to see the conversion rate go up, but it’s a start.
Worst: Lack of of chemistry
It seems as though there’s still some chemistry issues throughout the lineup. Very often the Ducks found themselves not connecting on passes or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was also a problem in the early going of last season, as the Ducks seemingly couldn’t find significant chemistry across any lines. This will probably improve as the season goes on, but you have to hope that this issue is resolved much sooner than last year. The panic button is still in a locked box across the room, but you can imagine some people may be eyeing the key hanging from the wall right about now.
Best: Cam Fowler REALLY doesn’t want to be traded, does he?
It was clear to anyone who watched the game that Fowler was far and away the best player on the ice. From a stellar keep-in at the blue line leading to the Ducks lone goal to a brilliant breakup of a 2 on 1 rush by the Devils, Fowler has shown the poise and leadership Ducks management has always seen in him. With reports that Bob Murray is doing everything in his power to not move a significant piece of his roster in his seemingly never-ending quest to sign Hampus Lindholm, it appears that Fowler is making himself a more and more indispensable part of the Ducks blueline and leadership core.
3) John Gibson
While the first New Jersey goal of the game could have been prevented with better rebound control, the second redirected goal against Gibson was not even remotely his fault. With these issues aside, Gibson gave the Ducks plenty of opportunities to draw even and possibly win the game with some fantastic saves. The game could’ve been more like a 4-1 loss if not for the young netminder.
2) Cam Fowler
Cam was playing on a completely different level this game. He’s really earning his spot in this crowded Ducks blueline. Once the obvious trade candidate to clear cap space, Fowler has done something incredibly difficult: make himself a little more untradeable.
1) Taylor Hall
The newest New Jersey star delivered some offense for a Devils team in desperate need of scoring. With the Devils finishing dead last in total goals scored last season, the blockbuster summer trade that brought Hall from the Edmonton Oilers to the Devils has shown its first signs of paying off. Hall supplied all of the Devils offense while Schneider and Co. took care of the rest.