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Game Preview #3: New Jersey Devils vs. Anaheim Ducks

Third game in and everyone is already sick of losing.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Anaheim Ducks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (0-2-0) versus the Anaheim Ducks (1-2-0). SBN Blog: Anaheim Calling.

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Broadcast: TV - MSG

Back to Back for Anaheim

The Anaheim Ducks played in Madison Square Garden last night as they got rocked by the Rangers, 6-4. Most of the team played underwater, except for the Zegras-Henrique-Terry line. Adam Henrique’s line outshot the Rangers 9-4, while the McTavish-Strome-Vatrano (two ex-Rangers) line was outshot 1-12. Since the team played so poorly, John Gibson, the starter, only played 40 minutes as he gave up five goals on 34 shots, while Anthony Stolarz gave up one goal on nine shots in relief. This raises the possibility that the Devils may face either goaltender tonight. Previously, it may have been assumed that they would have been facing Stolarz. But with Gibson coming off just a partial game, I would not be surprised to see him instead.

Projected Lines

After the Devils had an off day on Sunday, they had a full practice on Monday. As you can see below, Lindy Ruff seems to have corrected some of the problems that people had with the lineup on Saturday.

I would rather see Tatar on the third line, with Wood on the fourth - but I doubt this changes given Wood scored a goal on Saturday. However, the reason he was able to score - Fabian Zetterlund - is on the fifth line in practice. Zetterlund created that opportunity with his perfect pass, and now he’s going to be benched so Michael McLeod can play 3:51 again. The top six is fine, as it should be. I would really rather see Kevin Bahl than Brendan Smith, who has shown very little through two games.

Already Do-or-Die

While Miles Wood called the game on Saturday a “must-win,” the game tonight is getting into “do-or-die” territory for Lindy Ruff. And that’s not just conjecture anymore - Ruff is seemingly on the hot seat.

We are headed into the third game of the season tonight. The Devils have been outscored 10-4 in their first two games. They are close to being a cap team, and after extensions they look to be a full cap team in the near future. The time for this team to win is starting now, and if Tom Fitzgerald does not want to go the way of Ray Shero, he should get Lindy Ruff out of the locker room however he can.

Andrew Brunette is ready and waiting. Sergei Brylin is an extra assistant, and can presumably step into the offensive assistant role. The Devils also have a plethora of former players available at the RWJ Barnabas Hockey House for practices, including Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, and now Andy Greene. The idea that this team does not have the people to assemble a well-coached team is ridiculous.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of tonight’s game? Do you think the Devils will win? Will Lindy Ruff survive this week? Will the “system” cause less “confusion” tonight? Will the Devils top forwards get a goal tonight? Who are you watching for tonight? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.