The New Jersey Devils remain out west following a 2-1 loss against the LA Kings on Saturday. MacKenzie Blackwood got the game to overtime, as he was sharp between the pipes with 36 saves on 38 shots. The defence and goaltending has seen a nice resurgence late in the season. That’s a good sign because the Devils were a sieve defensively early on. They weren’t physical at all and allowed teams to push them around. Fortunately, Alain Nasreddine has been able to get through to his team and show some effort in that regard. It’s likely not going to be enough to turn his interim tag to full-time head coach, but at least we’re seeing the Devils compete now.
The Devils were able to pick up a marquee win recently over the Capitals by a score of 3-2. That’s been one of only a few highlights for the Devils this season. The Devils were a fancy pick to have a breakout season, though a record of 25-27-11 is not indicative of that. It feels like in any sport there’s always one team that is expected to do big things and they flatline instead. Lofty expectations don’t work out well for some teams, as they buckle under the pressure. Maybe next season with a clean slate the Devils will play much better. I think a lot of that will have to do with the development of Jack Hughes. If he can take a significant leap forward next season, the Devils might have a case.
Hughes has had moments where things look really promising, and others when he looks his age. A full offseason with the Devils should help, but Hughes certainly looks pretty raw at this point. Along with Hughes improving, it’d help if the Devils generate a hard-nosed defensively mentality. That’s what made the Devils so good during the Martin Broduer era. They didn’t give up an inch on the ice. It was a rather boring product, but it got the job done and won a lot of games. Times have changed a lot since the Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995 and 2003, though defensive hockey can still win games. Finding the next Scott Stevens would be welcome in Newark.
The Ducks are coming off an impressive win against the Penguins on Friday night by a score of 3-2. They haven’t had much to celebrate this season either. However, unlike the Devils, Anaheim was not expected to be a threat in 2019-20. This is a transitioning year for the Ducks, as they continue to re-tool for the future. They had a busy trade deadline, as they traded Ondrej Kase to the Bruins for a first-round pick, Derek Grant to the Flyers for Kyle Criscuolo and a conditional fourth-rounder, and Nick Ritchie was sent to the Bruins for Danton Heinen. Kase is only a 24-year-old, but he’s failed to live up to expectations in Anaheim. Perhaps a scenery change to a contender will help. Head below for our free Devils vs. Ducks pick.
N.J. Devils vs. Anaheim Ducks Betting Odds:
Devils vs. Ducks Prediction:
With MacKenzie Blackwood getting the call on Saturday, expect to see Cory Schneider back between the pipes this evening. This final month in the regular season may not be important for the Devils as a team, but it’s going to be important for Schneider. After a turbulent start this season, Schneider is getting another chance in the NHL.
Backup Louis Domingue was traded to the Vancouver Canucks, so that allows Schneider another opportunity to show he can play at the top level of hockey. He played in 14 games with Binghamton of the AHL, where he posted a 2.71 GAA and 0.903 save percentage. In 11 games in the NHL, Schneider has a 4.12 GAA and 0.868 save percentage, but has looked much improved recently. He knows that the rest of the season is important.
In his first appearance in just over a month with the Devils, he looked good with 1 goal allowed against the Detroit Red Wings for a 0.964 save percentage. It’s the Red Wings, but at least he looked competent compared to earlier in the year. He was fairly decent in his most recent outing as well. Schneider took a 3-2 loss in overtime against the Sharks on Monday night.
That’s a tough loss for Schneider, but he played well enough to give his team a chance. The Devils have been unable to score throughout the season, notably on the road, where they’ve scored just 2.4 goals per game. The Red Wings are the only team they’ve scored more than 3 goals against in their previous six games. New Jersey has scored an average of only 2 goals per game in their last six tilts.
All they needed was 2 goals in their most recent meeting against the Ducks, but they ended up with 3 in a 3-1 win on December 18. John Gibson is coming off a terrific performance against the Penguins, as he stopped 28 of 30 shots for a 3-2 victory. The Ducks are banged up defensively, but Gibson and his teammates should be able to handle a Devils team that has had no punch on offence. Having said that, the 29th best offence in the league likely won’t provide much support. Give me the UNDER in what looks like a 3-2 game on Sunday in Anaheim at the Duck Pond.