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Devils Takeaways: Devils Lack Discipline, Gas in 5-1 Loss to Ducks

Devils woes in back-to-back games continue as they lack discipline and gas against the Ducks.



Devils Takeaways: Devils Lack Discipline, Gas in 5-1 Loss to Ducks
(AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Newark — Before the puck even dropped between the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks, we were hit with a plot twist. The Devils recalled goaltender Nico Daws as Vitek Vanecek is feeling “physically unwell.” Vanecek’s status is not believed to be illness-related.

Yet another plot twist arose after Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson didn’t come out in the third period to finish the game despite playing really well. Anaheim determined Gibson as “under the weather.”

Regardless, the Devils were looking to come into Sunday and strengthen their play in back-to-back games. Unfortunately for New Jersey, they were goalied through two periods and out of gas in the third. Some lack of discipline didn’t help, either.

Let’s dive into Sunday night’s takeaways vs. Anaheim.

Devils Quick Wrap

The Devils dominated the first period outshooting the Ducks 15-5. However, John Gibson stood on his head to keep the Devils off the scoresheet in the opening 20 minutes. To start the second period, the Ducks struck quickly. On the power play, former Devil Adam Henrique gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead burying a rebound. Later, Henrique cashed in again while the Devils and Ducks played some 4-on-4 hockey, cashing in another rebound. The Devils wouldn’t go scoreless in the middle frame, however. Michael McLeod found the back of the net in the closing minute of the second period. The Devils couldn’t build on McLeod’s goal, however. The Ducks buried three pucks, including an empty net goal by Henrique to complete the hat-trick, en route to their 5-1 victory over the Devils.

Akira Schmid made 22 saves in the loss. Gibson was excellent through two periods making 18 saves on 19 shots. Lukas Dostal was a perfect 10/10 in relief.


First Period’s Recipe For Success

Two games in as many nights have been tough to handle this season. New Jersey is 1-5-1 in back-to-back games this season. Before puck drop, head coach Lindy Ruff offered insight on what makes it difficult to play two nights in a row.

“Obviously (back-to-backs are) tough,” Ruff explained. “Energy-wise, it’s tougher. You get in late, you don’t get a normal sleep cycle. There are a lot of things that are tougher. So, if you get caught overextending your shifts, you put yourself in a bad spot. It’d be my job to make sure I manage the ice time and make sure we don’t get caught with tired players on the ice.”

The Devils did a pretty good job evenly distributing the ice time. New Jersey’s top players naturally received some extra minutes in the opening frame. They tacked on a few extra minutes, too, as a result of a couple of power play opportunities.

The opening frame ended with the Devils outshooting the Ducks 15-5. That’s a reflection on how dominant New Jersey played over the Ducks in Sunday night’s first period despite playing the night before.

Gibson was seemingly the only Duck on the other side of the ice who was able to match the Devils’ intensity. If it weren’t for the 30-year-old goaltender, the Devils would have certainly gone into the first intermission with a lead.

Through the first 20 minutes of play, the Devils accrued an elite 68.00 CF% with a positive 11-5 scoring chance differential at 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick.

The first period of play was certainly the recipe for success in terms of supporting Schmid, especially in back-to-back games. The Devils held onto the puck for the majority of the opening frame and when they didn’t have it, they limited the Ducks to low-danger, perimeter chances in the defensive zone. They’ll want to replicate the start they had in this game most nights moving forward.

That Second Period, Though…

Whatever the Devils did in the first period, they certainly couldn’t maintain that momentum in the second period. Perhaps that’s because they spent a decent portion of it in the penalty box. The Devils started the period on the penalty kill, were whistled for three penalties in the middle frame, and two came via Jack Hughes.

Regardless, the Devils’ penalty kill continues to struggle. Once again, New Jersey continues to allow the opposition to park themselves at the top of New Jersey’s crease with little to no resistance.

Henrique, the former Devil, scored twice while standing point blank from Schmid. The first came on the power play that Anaheim started the period with, the second during 4-on-4 hockey while Jonas Siegenthaler and Sam Carrick sat in the penalty boxes.

The Devils still dominated the 5-on-5 play, however, and as a result, cashed in late off a rush between McLeod and Curtis Lazar.

If the middle frame told us anything, it was that the Devils need to be a little more disciplined and clear the net-front presence on the PK.

Out of Gas

The second period might not have been perfect, but at least the Devils played well at even strength.

The third period, however, was a total disaster. The Ducks with fresher legs outskated New Jersey and as a result, insured their lead twice.

In a bold move to give the Devils, who were clearly out of gas, on the power play, Ruff pulled Schmid with just about seven minutes left to play. However, it backfired and Henrique cashed in to complete a hat-trick against his former club.

Anaheim ended the third period outshooting New Jersey 13-10. It was much worse in the fancies, however, as the Ducks gained a 7-2 scoring chance differential with a 95.2 xGF%.

Following five-plus periods of play in two days, the Devils had nothing left in the tank. They couldn’t create their own luck and a fresh Anaheim club was able to take advantage. With plenty of back-to-backs ahead, the Devils will need to dig a little deeper moving forward in order to not drop too many of these back-to-back games.

“We’ve got to play the game the right way,” Ruff concluded. “I think sometimes with a little of the fatigue, we just didn’t quite get a bounce when we pulled the goalie with seven minutes. The puck was all around the net. We end up having a player fall down and they shoot it in the empty net again. So, play the game the right way.”

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