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Game Preview #48: New Jersey Devils vs. Anaheim Ducks

The New Jersey Devils return from the road to the much safer confines of the Prudential Center for an afternoon matinee with the struggling Anaheim Ducks.

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

Losers of two straight games to better performing teams in their own division, the New Jersey Devils look to salvage some points from the week in an afternoon home game. Their competition will come in the form of the Anaheim Ducks, who just recently won for the first time in 2019.

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (18-22-7) versus the Anaheim Ducks (20-19-9; SBN Blog: Anaheim Calling)

The Time: 1:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+2; Digital Audio - The “Devils Hockey Network.” Go to Radio.com or NHL.com for an audio feed.

The Last Devils Game: Honestly, I think I wasted enough energy both staying up for and recapping this genuinely awful performance against the New York Islanders, so I’m only saying a bit today. The only Devil who remotely showed up was MacKenzie Blackwood, as his defense allowed Isles to get open to deflect two goals past him and the hung him out to dry on a third. New Jersey got one back in the final frame but way too little, way too late, as they dropped the contest 4-1.

The Last Ducks Game: The Ducks got their first win of 2019 and their first in 13 games by defeating the Minnesota Wild 3-0. Adam Henrique of “Henrique! It’s Over!” fame would record the first, followed by Rickard Rakell just 11 seconds later. Another ex-Devils in Brian Gibbons would add a final tally, and no one on either team would score a goal after the first period, giving the Ducks the shutout win. JCoffman517 has a recap of that contest here.

The Last Devils-Ducks Game: New Jersey and Anaheim already met once this season out in California in what was one of the worst Devils games (for a particular reason) in recent memory. While the Devils scored five goals, they also put three behind their own goalie, as Stefan Noesen, Ben Lovejoy and Andy Greene all made boneheaded plays, resulting in the puck going behind Cory Schneider, who deserved a heck of a lot better that night. The Ducks would pick up the win in a shootout, defeating the Devils 6-5; John recapped that nightmare of a game here.

The Goal: Show up and play a good, full, hard sixty minutes and no matter which net-minder is in, don’t let them get peppered with quality chances. Both of these were the biggest issues against the Islanders; if the Devils want to fix their problems piece by piece, then I don’t see any better pieces to try and improve upon today. Their home record this year is respectable, and a home game should be the cure for the mid-week road ails.

Players Only: Amanda Stein broke the news on Twitter that after yesterday’s practice, Drew Stafford yelled at all of the players to come over into a huddle. They would carry on a players only meeting for roughly five minutes. I appreciate the leadership Stafford is showing here, and the fact that he and others are all trying to hold each other accountable both on and off the ice is encouraging to see. Some teams mired in bad seasons don’t bother to push each other to be better; the Devils seemingly will not allow themselves to become one of those teams.

Bye, Bye, Bye: The Devils will enter their bye week after this game, which will coincide with the All-Star Game coming up next weekend. It’s a double edged sword, as it means no Devils hockey for a week, but it’s also probably a good thing, as this team needs a reset in the worst way possible right now. Speaking of the All-Star Game briefly as well, one Devil will be playing hockey next weekend, but it more than likely will not be Taylor Hall; it will be interesting to see who his injury replacement is. and the NHL just announced as I’m typing this that it will be Kyle Palmieri. He will fill in as Taylor Hall’s injury replacement; congrats Palms!

A Final Thought: Send the fans home happy for a week with a W; let’s go into the bye with positive momentum.

Your Take: The Devils prepare for their last game for a bit and have to face a pair of old familiar faces in Henrique and Gibbons before they get to the bye week. How do you feel about this afternoon’s game? Will the Devils pull out a victory or will the Ducks begin a winning streak to try and push back into playoff contention? Leave any and all comments below; thanks as always for reading.