The New Jersey Devils are one of the worst teams in the league, both from a standings perspective and a shot metrics perspective. What many believed was the team that won the offseason last summer have now fired their coach they extended last year and have traded their best player, Taylor Hall, to the Arizona Coyotes. It makes sense that, given the good overall play of the Anaheim Ducks in recent weeks, that the Ducks should win this game.
I’m here to tell you that dreams are meaningless and wins in hockey are apparently a myth.
The Ducks dropped the second game of their back-to-back last night by a score of 3-1. While they weren’t as dominant as they were in Philadelphia the night before, they certainly played a better game than the Devils did. Unfortunately, the continuing theme of not being able to finish their chances and isolated defensive and goaltending lapses meant that Anaheim wasn’t able to turn the run of play into a win.
Before the game, fans received news that Troy Terry would be out with a broken bone below the kneecap for 10 weeks, Derek Grant (somehow the Ducks’ 5th leading scorer) would miss 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury, and Jacob Larsson would be day-to-day with an undisclosed upper body injury. While the loss of these players certainly hurts, they’re not exactly the difference between the lottery and playoffs.
The only Ducks goal of the game came on a perfectly executed 2 on 0 rush from a completely blown breakout by the Devils. Ondrej Kase got in on goaltender McKenzie Blackwood and fed a perfect cross ice pass to Adam Henrique who one-timed it into the open net, giving Anaheim a 1-0 lead in the first period.
That would be it for the offense, however, as the second period saw Michael Del Zotto cause a turnover for Jesper Bratt who delivered it to former first overall pick Nico Hischier streaking towards the net for the goal and the 1-1 tie game.
The Devils took the lead later in the period when former Duck Kyle Palmieri pulled it in and used Fowler as a screen while taking advantage of Miller being off his angle. While Miller didn’t see the puck, that’s a goal he probably wasn’t thrilled about, as a shot from the circles at that distance should be covered by proper positioning.
The Devils put the nail in the coffin in the third period on a goal from none other than Sami Vatanen in a night where all but one of the goal scorers for both sides formerly played for their opponent. Vatanen’s point shot deflected off of Korbinian Holzer and past Miller, essentially icing the game for the Ducks.
Up next: The Ducks continue their road trip against the New York Islanders at 10 AM PST on Saturday.
By The Numbers
3. Sami Vatanen
2. Jesper Bratt
1. Nico Hischier