Final Score: 7 -1 Anaheim Ducks. That doesn't leave too much room for "Worsts" does it?
Going into this home game, there was some talk about the Ducks coming back to earth and once again finding it a struggle to find the back of the net. But a brief skid it was. The Anaheim Ducks came roaring back in an extraordinary fashion starting in the second period. The Ducks crushed all dreams of the Devils completing a California sweep by playing a well-rounded 60 minute game.
Worst: The First Period?
This post is called "Best & Worst" for a reason. So I have to choose a "Worst" of last night right? Despite the New Jersey Devils outshooting the Ducks 12 to 6, possession was relatively in favor of the Ducks with some stretches controlled by the Devils. The Devils did put the pressure on the Ducks in their offensive zone, but Frederik Andersen was sharp and left little for second chances.
Best: Checking Line --> Scoring Line
The Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg is most commonly known to us as the Anaheim Ducks' prominent checking line absolutely dominated. The Devils had no answer for this line. The combination of relentless pressure as well as the contributions from the defense ripped the monkeys off these three's backs, starting with Andrew Cogliano and ending in Silfverberg's hatty.
Like head coach Bruce Boudreau said in the post-game press conference: "I think they deserve, the way they've played, a reward like that. They make it happen and they it tough on any line that they play against. To see them get some goals and finally get rewarded rather than just being checking, checking, checking is a really good sign."
Best: Stepping up the D
With Kevin Bieksa and Sami Vatanen listed as day-to-day with injuries, it really did put some emphasis and pressure on the remaining defensive corps to step up in their absence.
Besides the usual impressive play of Cam Fowler, it as really Josh Manson and AHL call-up Korbinian Holzer that shined last night. Manson has begun to grow into his own and is looking comfortable playing alongside Hampus Lindholm. While he is traditionally a stay-at-home defender, he made it a point to be very involved with the play. The fact that he continued to stay active throughout the night along the blue line really did spark the third line's forecheck. His shot from the blue line gave the huge rebound opportunity for Silfverberg's first goal. Then there was his perfect pass to the slot that led to Kesler's goal. Manson ended the night with 2 assists and a +1 rating.
Holzer had the challenge of skating alongside Clayton Stoner. I mean, if I were an opposing coach looking at the line-up, I'd peg that pairing to be the weakest link. But Holzer held his own and similar to Manson, stayed involved along the blue line to activate the 2nd line's forecheck. He also ended the night with 2 assists and +2 rating.
Best: Nick Ritchie's (very overdue) 1st Career NHL goal
While it is clear that Nick Ritchie needs a bit more time in the AHL to strengthen his skills and game, this goal was extremely overdue.
That being said, it was well worth the wait. Ritchie's first career NHL goal was quite an unexpected beauty. Bardown.
Best: Let those hats fly.
Jakob Silfverberg has been snakebitten for most this season. So for a guy that was signed because of his scoring ability, this season has been such a disappointment. But it's good to see Silf finally get his due and find the back of the net (other than in shootouts).
These weren't necessarily all snipes, but rather products of hard checking, great possession and getting into the dirty areas of the ice.
3) Bruce Boudreau
Amidst all the hats being thrown and all the hashtags of Ducks Social Media night being retweeted, Boudreau quietly recorded his 200th win behind the Anaheim Ducks bench. He is 200-100-38 since becoming head coach of the Anaheim hockey club. And according to Elias Sports, Boudreau is just the 7th coach in NHL history to earn 200+ wins with multiple teams.
2) Ryan Kesler - Andrew Cogliano
The Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg checking line dominated last night. Both Kesler and Cogliano notched a goal & two assists apiece with a +4 rating. There was some chatter that Bruce should simply put this line out all game since the Devils could not find a way to answer them.
It's good to see these guys score and find themselves on the pointsheet because all three have been snakebitten for the majority of this season.
1) Jakob Silfverberg
Achieving a 1st NHL career hatty + an assist warrants a #1 Star, don't you think?