It's a rare Thursday home game for the Ducks, who earlier today took part in an optional skate within the walls of Honda Center. Choosing to put in work off the ice were veterans Ryan Getzlaf, Antoine Vermette, Kevin Bieksa and Jonathan Bernier - who we expect is tonight's starting goaltender.
On the ice, however, were the usual suspects that include veterans Andrew Cogliano and Cam Fowler, and rookies Nick Ritchie and Joseph Cramarossa. Chris Wagner will draw back into the lineup tonight after clearing waivers earlier this week. The Ducks were left without an extra forward after trading Michael Sgarbossa to Florida in exchange for Logan Shaw yesterday. Shaw will report to the San Diego Gulls, but head coach Randy Carlyle says he could see time with the big club in the future.
The Ducks will face a Devils team without its standout left wing Taylor Hall, who will miss approximately 3-4 weeks following arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee. Hall single-handedly provided enough offense with his two-goal performance in New Jersey's 2-1 victory over the Ducks at Prudential Center on October 18.
"I hope there isn't a ghost of Hall or somebody who assumes his position tonight," Carlyle joked. "He's a dynamic young player who has the ability to change the game on one shift. It's not any different than what we saw the other night with Connor McDavid." For what it's worth, Gardena native Beau Bennett took rushes at left wing on the top line with Travis Zajac and PA Parenteau this morning.
Co-leading the Devils in scoring (with Hall) is defenseman Damon Severson, who enters tonight's game with 12 points (3g/9a) in 15 games. The mobile d-man already has four multi-point games and ranks tied for seventh among league defensemen in points. Severson is a prime example of a prototypical NHL defenseman of the modern day - a blend of size, speed, skill and a penchant for offense. He's averaging 20:37 time-on-ice this season, so the Ducks will see plenty of Severson tonight.
The Ducks will certainly be tested tonight, as the Devils roll into town with a five-game winning streak and victories in seven of the past 10 games (7-1-2). They've also won three straight on the road.
"If we're not ready to play a high-level game, we're going to be chasing them all night," Carlyle said. "They're showcasing what the new NHL is all about. There are a lot of faceoff plays and involvement from their defense. They have a stellar goaltender in Cory Schneider. They've been giving themselves a chance to win every night."
Schneider will indeed start tonight. The veteran netminder - who was a teammate with Bieksa and Ryan Kesler during their time in Vancouver - brings a 7-3-2 record, 2.14 goals-against average and .929 save percentage into the game.
Here's something rather interesting: The Devils are 5-3-1 when scoring first, but 4-0-2 when the opposition opens the scoring. The Ducks, meanwhile, are 8-1-0 when tallying the first goal but winless (0-5-3) when giving up the opening goal. If the Ducks hold a lead after two periods, they lock it down. They're undefeated (7-0-0) when leading after two. We'll see what develops tonight.
Potential Line Combinations