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New Jersey Devils at Calgary Flames: Game Preview #21

The Devils enter the 3rd game of their 4 game Western Canada road trip after splitting the first 2. Coming off a shutout victory over the Oilers last night, will they be able to carry the momentum towards a victory in Calgary? This preview takes a look at both the Devils and Flames as entering tonight's game.

Will Schneider start his 21st straight game?
Will Schneider start his 21st straight game?
Chris LaFrance-USA TODAY Sports

The Time: 10:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+; Radio - 880 AM WCBS

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (9-9-2) at the Calgary Flames (12-7-2; SBN Blog: Matchsticks and Gasoline)

The Last Devils Game: The Devils shutout the Oilers 2-0 last night, thanks to goals by Adam Henrique and Tuomo Ruutu and 29 saves by Schneider. As John recapped, it wasn't the most encouraging performance by the Devils as they struggled mightily in the first and third periods. Fortunately, they controlled most of the second period due to better execution in moving the puck, especially through the neutral zone which resulted in the goals for the Devils. The Devils put up 19 of their 26 shots in the second period in large part due to the better transition play, which remains a constant battle for this team to control consistently. It is also notable that the penalty kill has continued to stay hot with 20 straight kills.

The Last Flames Game: The Flames are coming off of a 4-3 loss to the Blackhawks on Thursday night. The game featured the Blackhawks jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and then the Flames answering back with powerplay goals from Paul Byron and Dennis Wideman to level the score after the first 20 minutes. The teams once again exchanged goals in the second period with Sean Monahan scoring on a set up by Curtis Glencross and Byron. Patrick Kane would eventually win it for the Blackhawks on a goal midway through the third period. The game featured the Flames outshooting the Blackhawks 27-22 and converting on 2/6 powerplays, while conceding 1 powerplay goal against on 2 chances for the Blackhawks. Jonas Hiller made 18 saves on 22 shots. Matchsticks and Gasoline has a stats recap and a traditional recap available.

The Goal: John has mentioned this in his recent previews and recaps, but for the Devils to be effective in creating chances, they need to consistently control the puck with possession through the neutral zone. Whether that is doing something as basic as a tape to tape pass to a teammate or effectively gaining control of the zone by carrying the puck in instead of dumping it in. Last night's game was a big example of that. The first and third periods the Devils struggled to get the puck out of their own end, to link up for passes, and to gain the offensive zone with possession. In the end the Oilers were able to apply a lot of pressure to the Devils as a result. The second period was the opposite and it showed on the scoreboard and with the possession stats. A team like Calgary seems to be riding some luck as they are doing well despite not controlling play. The Devils will have a great oppurtunity to try to expose the Flames shortcomings to create more offensive chances than they usually do.

About the Flames: The Flames currently sit fourth in the Pacific Division with 26 points but are just 3 points back of the division leading Ducks. They have gone 7-3-0 in their last 10 games. On special teams they have the 8th most succesful powerplay in the league at 21.4% but have struggled on the penalty kill, ranking at 27th with a 74.6% success rate. Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie have provided 22 and 16 points of offense respectively from the back end while Jiri Hudler, Johnny Gaudreau, and Sean Monahan have added 15, 14, and 13 points each. Jonas Hiller is their starting goaltender with a .914 SV% in 15 games while Karri Ramo has backed him up with a .903 SV% in 7 games.

According to War On Ice, the Flames have the 2nd highest all situation PDO in the league at 102.43 which only drops down to 3rd in the league during 5v5 play at 102.90. It is notable that their 5v5 Fenwick% is only 45.53% and their 5v5 Corsi% is 43.74%, both of which rank towards the bottom of the league. This should be a game where the Devils can control play and get their chances.

The Giordano-Brodie Pair: Calgary's top pair of Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie going against the Devils top forwards will be a key matchup to watch tonight. So far this season Brodie has averaged 25:06 minutes per game while Giordano has an average of 24:15. Giordano is 1st in scoring for the Flames with 22 points with Brodie right behind him with 16. The early season ice time averages and production mirrors the strong season both enjoyed last year with the Flames. According to War On Ice, they have been used as the Flames shutdown pair with tough zone starts, 39% offensive zone start or less, but both still have a positive Relative Fenwick% and positive Relative Corsi%. They are also used as the top pair on the Flames penalty kill and they each get power play action. It will be interesting to see how the Devils forwards step up to this challenge.

Starting Schneider?: It seems crazy to suggests that Cory Schneider may start his 21st straight game, but the thought of him starting 20 was just as crazy so who knows what coach DeBoer will elect to do tonight. Schneider has been performing well as of late with 2 shutouts and a .952 SV% in his last 5 games. He's been a big part of the Devils scraping out what points they've been able to this season and the penalty kill being succesful as of late. Still there is no ignoring how much he has played already this season, 1,138:58 minutes already. Jonathan Quick has the second most minutes played and trails Schneider by over 116 minutes. Scott Clemmensen did have a strong stint in Albany, stopping 53 of 54 shots he faced in 2 starts last week. Perhaps he finally gets the call?

Cammalleri Returns to Calgary: Mike Cammalleri is back in Calgary for the first time since signing a 5 year, $25M deal with the Devils in the offseason. He previously had spent a season with the Flames in 2008-09 before a few years in Montreal. In his Flames career spanning parts of 4 seasons, he produced 89 goals and 89 assists in 216 regular season games. His only playoff experience happened during his first stint in Calgary in 2008-09 where he had 3 points in 6 games. When he's been healthy, he's been one of the most important players for the Devils with his team leading 7 goals to go along with 4 assists in 13 games. It would be great if he could come up with a big performance against his old club.

Your Take: How do you feel about the Devils play going into this game? Are you concerned by some of their discouraging performances or do you think they can exploit the Flames and show improvement in transitional play? Do you expect Schneider to start again? How do you think Cammalleri will do in his return to Calgary? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!