The Ducks couldn’t get it done last night against the Flyers, as they fell 4-1. They’ll have an opportunity to correct their mistakes, namely scoring more goals, as they head just a ways north to take on the New Jersey Devils in a back-to-back. Anaheim managed to outshoot Philadelphia, but couldn’t get one past Carter Hart at even strength. They’ve failed to score more than two goals in five of their past six games. Fortunately for the Ducks, they have one of the worst teams in the league in front of them, a perfect chance to correct some mistakes and build a little momentum.
The New Jersey Devils are in disarray. What looked like such a promising season has quickly turned into a complete dumpster fire. They have just 10 wins on the season and sit second to last in the league standings. The firing of head coach John Hynes, who was just given an extension last year, and their recent trading of Taylor Hall leaves them without a sense of direction. They can’t have much motivation going through that locker room, but that’s advantageous for a Ducks team on a back-to-back.
Keys to the Game
Forecheck the hell out of the Devils - New Jersey does not have a good defense. Their starting goaltender, Blackwood, is being left to handle plenty of high danger chances and it has resulted in the Devils having the second worst goals against average (3.47). The Ducks need to pressure the puck deep and be relentless on the forecheck. This should force the Devils into making errors and turning the puck over in their own zone to give the Ducks quality chances. Give the green light and let one defenseman pinch in most situations. Devils also have the second worst goals for average (2.38) so it’s probably okay to risk the odd-man break. Don’t let the Devils breathe with the puck and it’s going to pay off.
Shoot a lot - The Ducks momentum gets stagnant when they spend too much time trying to find the perfect setup. How many times have we watched them cycle the puck and keep a team hemmed in their own zone (which is great and all) just to get one look on net? They look best when they are making a few quick passes and putting it on net. Force the goalie into a rebound and cash in on the second chances.
Players to Watch
Get Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg on the ice as much as possible. Yes they’ll probably show some fatigue in the later stages of the game because of the back-to-back, but they are going to heavily out-skill any line they are matched up against and could make quick work of the Devils.
Jack Hughes fitting into his NHL skates is on the horizon. He’s showing glimpses of his talent, but the number one center for the Devils right now is Nico Hischier, the previous first-overall pick back in 2017. He may not be blowing up the point totals (none of the Devils players are), but he’s strong with the puck and can dominate play to open up chances.
To beat the Devil you have to think like the Devil.