Date: Sunday, March 1, 2020
Time: 5:00 PM PST
Location: Honda Center
TV: Prime Ticket
Radio: AM 830
The Anaheim Ducks have won their last two games since the trade deadline passed and will look to make it 3-0 with the new and improved roster against a New Jersey Devils team that is in the thick of the race to be a lottery contender for the second straight season. The Devils won the lottery last year and picked Jack Hughes first overall, but this season has not gone as expected at all for them.
The trade deadline saw New Jersey as sellers once again, despite what appeared to be an incredible offseason of acquisitions that figured to put them back in the playoff conversation. The Devils currently sit 26th overall in the standings with 62 points, just two points ahead of Anaheim in 27th at 60 points.
The Devils also played yesterday in Los Angeles and were dealt a 2-1 overtime loss against the Kings, so the Ducks will have that tactical advantage tonight as well. With the playoffs being securely out of sight at this point, the feeling seems to be that the loser of tonight’s game may end up as the winner in the long-term.
Danton Heinen and Sonny Milano have been very pleasant additions to the Ducks offense and the chemistry seems to already be trending in a positive direction. A game against a struggling Devils team that played the previous day gives the Ducks an opportunity to truly showcase the improvements. The Ducks have scored seven goals over the course of their last two games, which matches their total goal output of the first four months of the season (at least it feels that way).
Player to Watch
I will personally be watching for more impact from Danton Heinen tonight. Heinen scored his first goal as a member of the Ducks on Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins and has had a couple very nice passes, including a gorgeous set-up for Adam Henrique in the game on Tuesday night against the Edmonton Oilers. The power play could desperately use someone that can provide cross-ice passes accurately, and he might be the guy that can provide that missing piece.
Keys to the Game
Special Teams - The Ducks have a power play goal in each of their last two games, one being scored by Sonny Milano and the other being assisted by Sonny Milano. Have the Ducks found an answer to get their power play finally moving in the right direction? They have also conceded a power play goal in each of those same games, so there is still plenty of work to be done on the penalty kill.
Rickard Rakell - Rakell hasn’t been a major factor for the Ducks offense all season long. It’s far too late for an offensive explosion from him to have any kind of major impact on what happens with the Ducks this season, but I think all of the fans would appreciate seeing that he still has that scoring touch and the Devils provide the chance for the ketchup bottle to become unblocked.
Protect John Gibson - John Gibson has been playing much better in the last few weeks than he had earlier in the season. At this point, the Ducks just need to focus on reducing his workload and making sure that he does not get run into for the remaining 18 games of the season. The last thing that the Ducks need is for Gibson to finish the season at anything other than 100% healthy.