The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (26-12-3) at the Anaheim Ducks (12-26-4). SBN Blog: Anaheim Calling.
The Time: 10PM ET
The Broadcast: TV - ESPN+/Hulu
It has been no secret that the Devils have had some trouble keeping consistent lines over the past several games. Some of this is to be expected with the return of Ondrej Palat to the lineup. However, the bottom six has especially been in a state of flux, with Lindy Ruff not wanting to commit to keeping Alexander Holtz or Fabian Zetterlund at a consistent ice time. Of course, Jepser Boqvist and Dawson Mercer were big parts of the comeback win when the Devils last took on the Canes. Tonight, they are being tasked with uplifting Michael McLeod’s line.
Today’s Workflow in Anaheim for #NJDevils practice:— Catherine Bogart (@CatherineBogart) January 12, 2023
I cannot say it really makes sense to me, but it should not matter. Anaheim is one of the worst teams in the league, and I would be supremely disappointed if the Devils walked away without a win tonight. And with Nathan Bastian and John Marino looming on the horizon of a return, these lines will be shaken up even more within the next week or so.
Since this is the last time the Devils will be playing the Anaheim Ducks this season, I wanted to argue once more that the Devils should trade for Adam Henrique before the trade deadline. From HockeyViz, take a look at his impact card below.
It’s no secret that the Ducks are a struggling team, and I see no reason why they could not retain half his cap hit if the Devils gave them a good enough return. Henrique is still a plus finisher, and I still freshly recall when he would spin magic out of the most anemic offenses in New Jersey Devils history. As a precision shooter who plays great defense, he is exactly what the Devils need on the ice. Imagine how many goals he would have scored in Haula’s spot on Jack’s line.
After the Devils’ rough stretch, I think the Devils are in for a run of positive luck and results following their comeback wins against the Rangers and Hurricanes. While this is a somewhat lengthy road trip, let them take the “easy” win tonight and continue to build this into a winning streak. They have gone 4-1-1 in their last six games, and their upcoming schedule is not really too tilted as too difficult or too easy. With the back-to-back tonight and tomorrow, I think Mackenzie Blackwood should start tonight. I would rather see Vitek Vanecek start against the Los Angeles Kings, who should prove to be a tougher matchup than the Anaheim Ducks.
For what it’s worth, the Ducks got outshot 41-20 the last time they faced the Devils. They are one of the worst statistical horrors of a team I have ever seen, with a 39.50 xGF%, as they have been outscored 118-62 at five-on-five. With Troy Terry, Trevor Zegras, and Adam Henrique - they have plenty of high-end scoring talent, but none of the team around them to make it count.
What do you think of tonight’s game? Do you think Blackwood should get the start against Anaheim? What do you think of Adam Henrique as a potential trade target? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.