The Matchup: Calgary Flames (26-24-3 SBNation: Matchsticks and Gasoline) vs. the New Jersey Devils (21-21-9)
The Time: 7:30 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG; Digital Audio - TONJ, WFAN
The Last Devils Game: On the 31st of January, the Devils visited Detroit to face the Red Wings. This game was truly the battle of the bottomfeeders in the East. At the time of the game, both teams were tied for last in terms of points. In the end, the Devils bested the Red Wings, 4-3. To start the scoring off, Pavel Zacha took a shot, which rebounded towards Stefan Noesen. Noesen proceeded to deposit his second Devils goal in the same number of games played. Later, Kyle Palmieri took the puck on a Red Wings power play, and found a way to get the puck by Jared Coreau for a Devils shorthanded goal. In the second, the Red Wings responded, with Henrik Zetterberg tipping a shot from Gustav Nyquist past Schneider and in. The Devils responded back, however, with Palmieri ripping a shot past Coreau for a 3-1 Devils lead. Adam Henrique got another Devils shorthanded goal to make it 4-1, and the Devils weathered the storm, fighting off the Red Wings for a 4-3 win. John’s recap is here.
The Last Flames Game: The Flames beat the Wild 5-1, to win their second in a row after previously having dropped four in a row. The Goals were scored by Chiasson, Monahan X2, Engelland, and Ferland. FlamesMM wrote this recap.
The Last Flames-Devils Game: On the thirteenth of January, the Devils beat the Flames 2-1 in Calgary. Keith Kinkaid had 31 saves on the night, while Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall scored the goals for the Devils. Sean Monahan scored for the Flames. This loss against the Devils started a series of losses for the Flames, in which they lost six of seven. Alternatively, this game started a string of wins for the Devils, in which they won four of their next five. John wrote a recap here. John described this game as a “complete game” played for the Devils.
Who’s coming up: News Devils fans will love to hear - Luke Gazdic has been waived by the Devils. News Devils fans won’t like to hear as much - John Hynes is doing this because he believes Gazdic needs to play. Gazdic has played in 10 games this season, which is about 10 games too much.
Joseph Blandisi is being called up, as reported by Andrew Gross from FireandIce. Blandisi started off the season slow, but had played well before his recent injury. On the year, he has 23 points in 28 games with Albany.
Andy Greene, our beloved #1 defenseman, is returning to play against Calgary after missing the last 11 games. Unfortunately, our replacement #1, Jon Merrill, has now been put on the IR with an upper-body injury.
The Goal: Stay composed, and don’t take penalties. The Devils allowed 5 power-plays to the Red Wings, and although the Red Wings only capitalized on one, the Red Wings have the worst power-play in the league. Having jumped to a 4-1 lead, the Devils nearly let the Red Wings back into the game, but Schneider helped save the Devils in this game. This Calgary team is a lot better than the Red Wings. They are in the top 10 in Corsica For, with 51.09%.
Monahan’s Hot, the Flames aren’t: In my last preview, I wrote about how Sean Monahan had been struggling compared to his usual standards. Well, now Sean Monahan’s on fire. He’s had 8 goals in his last 9 games. The 22 year old now has 18 goals on the year, and is projected to get to 28 goals by the end of the year. His 51 points would be his lowest points tally since his rookie year, but considering his slow start on the year, that would still be an impressive amount of points. Monahan has been arguably the best player from the 2013 draft, and should continue to develop into a star alongside Johnny Gaudreau.
Despite Monahan’s hot streak, which featured a streak in which he scored in five straight, the Flames had lost in four of those five. This could be attributed to suspect goaltending; Chad Johnson has been horrendous in his last three games, with save percentages of .810, .250, and .750. Brian Elliott had been better as of late, but his numbers on the season are still horrendous.
Expected Goalies: For the Devils, Cory Schneider seems likely to play against the Flames. His stats against the Red Wings don’t speak to how well he played against them. After a horrendous two months, he’s now brought his save percentage up to .910, which is a little below league-average.
For the Flames, Brian Elliott is probably going to play. He played well against Minnesota and Ottawa, two very good teams, so Calgary is likely to try to continue Elliott’s hot streak against New Jersey, the third worst NHL team based on goals-per-game.
Devils To Watch: Kyle Palmieri is a player that can go weeks without goals, and then suddenly start scoring at any random time. As of now, he’s hot, with four goals in his last six. Taylor Hall hasn’t been the goal-scoring savior the Devils thought they would get, but he’s their best forward by far. This season shows more than any other that the Devils need to built complementary pieces to help Hall perform at his full potential, as he only has 11 goals on the year. Hall has gone six games without a goal, but he has contributed nicely with four assists during that span. The other Devils scoring threat, Adam Henrique, has scored in each of the last two games. Hopefully he continues that streak against the Flames.
One Last Thought: There’s no word on if any lineup changes will be made. No information has been released as of when I’m writing this as to what the lineups may be. I expect Joseph Blandisi to come in, perhaps for Devante Smith-Pelly, Vernon Fiddler, or even PA Parenteau, who recorded less than 10 minutes of ice time against the Red Wings.
Your Thoughts?: Who do you think will win tonight? Who do you expect to score? Do you think Stefan Noesen will continue his 1.00 goals per game with the Devils? What are you hoping out of this game? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading, and have a good day.