The Devils begin their California road trip on Tuesday against a high-scoring Ducks team.
Three weeks into the 2021-22 season, the New Jersey Devils still look pretty good.
They were able to get three points in three games last week, after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins for what felt like the first time in forever and getting to overtime against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Week four is going to be a crucial one for the Devils, whose schedule is going to get harder starting next week.
The Devils will spend this week in California, kicking things off on Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks before taking on the Los Angeles Kings on Friday and then finishing off the road trip in San Jose on Saturday to face the Sharks.
Unfortunately, they will have to do this without star center Jack Hughes, who is going to miss another five weeks with his shoulder injury.
How do the Devils match up against the Ducks?
So far in the young season, the Ducks look much better than they did in 2021. However, they come into their game against the Devils having lost six of their last seven games, something the Devils absolutely must capitalize on.
The Ducks score at a high rate, thanks primarily to their power play, which is one of the best in the league.
Devils fans won’t want to hear this, especially since their team’s penalty kill isn’t great, but the good news is that the Ducks aren’t anything special at even-strength.
The Ducks also aren’t great defensively, something the Devils must take advantage of. The Devils’ offense is capable of scoring and they must show off that part of their game on Tuesday.
The keys to the game for the Devils are to capitalize on offensive chances and, most importantly, to avoid foolish mistakes and stay out of the box.
One of the best power plays in the league against one of the worst penalty kills is not going to be pretty, so the Devils must do everything in their power to prevent that from happening.
Ducks players to watch:
RW Troy Terry
This season: 9 GP, 5 G, 10 PTS
Career vs. Devils: 1 GP, 2 PTS
LW Adam Henrique
This season: 10 GP, 4 G, 9 PTS
Career vs. Devils: 5 GP, 2 G, 4 PTS
RW Sonny Milano
This season: 5 GP, 1 G, 4 PTS
Career vs. Devils: 1 GP, 1 A
C Isaac Lundestrom
This season: 10 GP, 1 G, 8 PTS
RHD Josh Manson
Career vs. Devils: 10 GP, 7 A
RHD Kevin Shattenkirk
This season: 10 GP, 3 G, 10 PTS
G John Gibson
Career vs. Devils: .924 SV%, 2.09 GAA
The Ducks have several players who are off to a hot start to the season and have had good career numbers against the Devils.
Former Devil Adam Henrique is one of the Ducks’ leading scorers and has had success in the five games he’s played against his old team. He’ll arguably be Anaheim’s number one forward to watch in this game.
With regard to the Ducks’ defensemen, Josh Manson seems to always get on the board when he plays the Devils. Another of the team’s RHD, Kevin Shattenkirk, is scorching hot this season, averaging a point per game.
The Ducks will boast some blueliners that have the potential to be a serious scoring threat against New Jersey.
Veteran goaltender John Gibson has some impressive numbers in the six games he’s played against the Devils. Gibson has also had a good start to his season. Scoring on him won’t be an easy task for the Devils.
Devils players to watch:
RW Pavel Zacha
This season: 7 GP, 4 G, 6 PTS
Career vs. Ducks: 7 GP, 2 G, 4 PTS
LW Andreas Johnsson
This season: 7 GP, 4 G 6 PTS
Career vs. Ducks: 7 GP, 3 G, 5 PTS
RW Jesper Bratt
Career vs. Ducks: 5 GP, 2 G, 9 PTS
Three Devils forwards have the potential to shine on Tuesday night. Pavel Zacha and Andreas Johnsson, who have gotten on the scoresheet early and often for the Devils this season, have had success throughout their careers against the Ducks.
Their hot starts to the season combined with their past success against the Ducks are encouraging.
Jesper Bratt’s numbers can be misleading. He isn’t scoring much this season, but he’s been an important player for the Devils and plays on arguably the team’s most important line.
He should be expected to keep up his good play this game, but he might be able to do that while scoring. Bratt has a whopping nine points in five career games against the Ducks.
He hasn’t played better against a single team more than he has against the Ducks, a fact that should have Devils fans very excited.
As long as the Devils can play disciplined hockey (ahem, P.K. Subban) and take advantage of weaker defensive team, they should be in good shape. They’ll hope to start their road trip off with a big win in Anaheim.