By Kyle Shohara
New line combinations could be in store tonight as the Ducks continue to search for ways to end their scoring woes. Thursday’s 3-0 defeat was the seventh time this season Anaheim has been blanked on the scoresheet – uncharacteristic for a team with the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and others.
Tonight is also a chance for the Ducks to get back into the win column, this time against a vastly different New Jersey Devils team that enters the game in fourth place in the Atlantic Division (16-12-4, 36 points). Former Ducks right wing Kyle Palmieri co-leads the Devils in goals (13) and ranks second in points (25).
“Obviously it comes as a shock anytime, but I think once it wore off, it's been great for me,” said Palmieri, regarding the offseason trade to his hometown team. [Palmieri grew up in Montvale, New Jersey]. “The adjustment went smoothly. Moving back home makes it a lot easier. It's been real exciting. I've had a lot fun so far.”
The Ducks, meanwhile, remain in the playoff hunt despite their 11-14-5 record (27 points), and enter the game five points out of third place, currently held by the Calgary Flames.
“When you score as few goals as we have recently, you have to try and change things up,” Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said yesterday during practice. “We moved some guys around, and hopefully the success in the past will create success in the future.”
For the Ducks, who rank last in the NHL in goals scored (56), Getzlaf says the team has to “try everything” in order to find offense.
“When you have certain guys that may look better on other lines and may help other guys a little bit, I think you have to try everything. When you’re not scoring, you have to try things.”
Because the Ducks opted not to hold a morning skate, it remains to be seen who starts in net. John Gibson has started the past eight games, while Frederik Andersen has played just once since Nov. 21. He missed six consecutive games with flu-like symptoms, and relieved Gibson in Anaheim's 5-1 loss vs. Carolina on Dec. 11.
“They've always been a very stingy team, but I don't think it matters about the team we’re playing,” said Andrew Cogliano. “It's all about us. We need to get back to what we were doing before the last couple of games. Just like any other team in the league, they pride themselves on defense and they play hard defensively. They get timely goals. At the end of the day, we need to focus on ourselves and focus on what we need to do because you can't control other teams.”
With a new general manager (Ray Shero), Palmieri says these Devils aren’t the same in years past.
“There was a lot of changeover all the way down from management to front office to coaches,” Palmieri said. “But for us, it was a chance to kind of remold what people think about the Devils. Everything was played a certain way. Everything was done a certain way and now I think, especially for our fans and the guys that were here before, it's been a fresh start for everybody, which is nice.”