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Game Preview: New Jersey Devils at the Anaheim Ducks

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Continuing the California tour, the Devils move onto Anaheim.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (10-12-5) at the Anaheim Ducks (15-11-5). SBN Blog: Anaheim Calling.

The Time: 8:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+

A Familiar Face: The Devils get to see former Devil Adam Henrique tonight, and the fan favourite is having a very standard season for himself. Getting a career low of around 16 and a half minutes of ice time per game, Henrique has six goals and 11 assists in 31 games played, on track for around 45 points on the season. He is firing shots at an even lower rate than normal, with only 37 shots for a 15.8 shot percentage. All of this places him third on the Ducks in total points, behind Richard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf.

A Rough Time For Ryan Kesler: The former Selke trophy winner has not seen much of a reduction in ice time, but he still has not found his old form following his injury. He had bone fragments removed from his hip in the summer of 2017, and his status for this season was up in the air throughout the offseason. However, he has managed to play 28 games so far. With second line minutes, Kesler has put up 4 goals and 2 assists. He is sporting an atrocious 41.9 CF%, and at the age of 34 he still has three more whole seasons to play after this one, with a no-move clause for two of them and a modified no-trade for the last one. For the Ducks, this is by no means an ideal situation. So how have the Ducks stayed competitive without one of their key contributors, and middling depth?

Goaltending: In 25 games, John Gibson has just 11 wins while bringing a .926 save percentage and a 2.58 goals against average. His goals saved above average thus far is 14.99, and his backup has been very solid as well. Ryan Miller, age 38, is 4-2 in six starts and nine games with a .929 save percentage and 2.47 goals against average. His goals saved above average is 5.62 at this moment of the season. The Anaheim Ducks get quality starts 71% of the time, with Gibson and Miller sporting .680 and .833 quality start percentages, respectively. Amazingly, the Ducks only have two “really bad starts” (games where the starter has a save percentage under .850) - both coming from John Gibson. By comparison, Keith Kinkaid has had four - which is honestly understandable given how bad the team has been since the hot start (my personal opinion is that he’s keeping up his end of the bargain, generally) - and Cory Schneider already has two. John Hynes has already decided on who will start for the Devils tonight, but he has not told the media as of yet.

On the Note of Henrique: His trade partner, Sami Vatanen, appears to have been paired with Egor Yakovlev for tonight’s game. John Hynes has fully seen the light that Andy Greene and Damon Severson need to stay together, and does not seem intent on breaking them up to reunite the mediocre Greene-Vatanen pairing whenever Yakovlev plays. These were the rest of the lines in practice yesterday - everything is status quo:

I increasingly wonder whether Mirco Mueller is going to finish the year on the Devils. And, perhaps, this will lead to increased viability of Sami Vatanen finishing his contract with the Devils. Now that Damon Severson has taken his rightful place as the top pairing right-defenseman, Sami Vatanen is going to have to show he is a damn-good second-pairing defenseman if he wants to stay on the team. While his scoring has improved to his last season’s standard, his defense continues to need improvement. Also, Steven Santini’s lack of play to speak of makes his long-term place on the team hard to judge at the moment.

Your Thoughts: What do you think about tonight’s game? Are you excited to see Adam Henrique playing on MSG again? Or are you afraid he’s going to net a hat trick? How do you think the Devils will fare trying to score on the Ducks’ goaltending? Do you want Kinkaid or Schneider to start? Who are you looking to amongst Devils skaters for a good game tonight? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.