The game against the Flames featured a very back-and-forth game, similar to the Detroit game. Unfortunately, the Devils could not win this one, and fell to the Flames 4-3 in overtime.
The Devils did not come out strong. They weren’t completely overwhelmed, but they were outplayed. The first period was a lull for the majority of it, though the Devils got a power play 12 minutes in. Although the Devils play has struggled for the majority of the year, they cycled the puck well, and Taylor Hall had a couple of good chances from the left side of the net. However, three minutes later, Lovejoy took a penalty for holding the stick of Johnny Gaudreau. Because of this, the Flames held the Devils in their own zone for the entirety of the two minutes, and Sean Monahan continued his hot streak by sniping a shot over Schneider’s shoulder, off the bar and in, for a 1-0 Flames lead. Ending the period, Kyle Palmieri shoved Troy Brouwer into the net, and obtained an interference call.
The Flames responded quickly in the second. Only 22 seconds in, Kris Versteeg obtained a pass in the zone from Brodie, and shot it past Schneider and in. Perhaps Schneider could have saved that one, perhaps the screen was too good. Regardless, it was 2-0, and it seemed like the Flames had control of the period. After this goal, however, the Devils responded. Kyle Palmieri had a very good chance, in which Elliott gaveaway the puck and Palmieri nearly put it into the empty net on a wraparound. Minutes later, a similar situation occurred, in which Elliott lost sight of the puck from Miles Wood, and the puck ended up on Henrique’s stick. Henrique would not mess up, and he proceeded it to deposit it without Elliott noticing to cut the deficit to one. Palmieri then had another wonderful chance, in which he juked by Elliott, but was slashed along the way and hit the post, resulting in a Devils power play. The Devils would score on this one, off a Michael Cammalleri missed shot which bounced off the backboards and towards Pavel Zacha, who got it through Elliott and in to tie the game. After this, it seemed like the Flames were energized again, but the Devils responded back. The Devils put pressure on Elliott, and Wideman (who may have been pushed by a Devils player) was called for delay of game for knocking the net off the rims. Kyle Palmieri scored off a double deflection featuring Miles Wood, and the Devils found themselves up 3-2 entering the third.
The third was the Devils worst period by far. With the lead, the Devils didn’t feel the need to put pressure on the Flames, and the Flames realized this. The constantly shot on the Devils, and Matt Stajan tied the game for the Flames. The Flames then proceeded to continue dominating the rest of the period, and Cory Schneider saved a multitude of shots from players like Monahan and Giordano to keep the Devils tied through three.
In overtime, the Flames started off with a chance right away. Johnny Gaudreau skated in, and Schneider made a save on a tricky shot. The Devils tried to respond, but only managed a Damon Severson shot which was rather easy to save. Severson then was caught out of position, which led to the Flames cutting a pass across the ice to Backlund, who easily deposited it past Schneider and into the net for a 4-3 win. A good performance (aside from the third period), but a not-so-good result.
The Opposition Opinion: FlamesMM wrote a recap here
First Two Good; Third Not So Much: The Devils played well in the first two periods, despite falling 1-0 down in the first. The Corsi stats show the Devils were even with the Flames in the first period (-1), and outplayed the Flames in the second (+5). However, in the third, the Devils were terrible (-10), which shows why the Devils let go of the game. The Devils put up only three shots on goal in the third, and the Devils tend to not do good when they play conservatively. Overall, they were outshot 38-29, with dangerous players such as Sean Monahan and Kris Versteeg getting five shots each. Give Schneider credit for keeping the Devils in the game throughout the third, as the Devils shouldn’t even have earned one point considering the third period.
Henrique continues his streak, but...: Henrique has now had goals in his last three games. Unfortunately, aside from the goal, Corsi Stats give him the worst 5-on-5 even strength corsi stats, with a very low -17 differece in CF-CA. His linemates, Michael Cammalleri and Miles Wood, weren’t much better. While Miles Wood has an impressive asset in his speed, nothing else stands out yet. Michael Cammalleri, as all Devils fans know, has shown his age this season. He can be completely invisible in a game, and aside from the Pavel Zacha goal, his invisibility was evident in this game. I will say that Wood made himself more involved in this game than the Detroit game, and played a part with two somewhat flukey, yet still good, assists. Henrique got credited with an assist on Zacha’s goal, but his only noticeable contribution was the goal against Elliott.
Palmieri Shows Up Again: Palmieri scored another goal, and is now at 14 for the year. He easily could have had two more, and was constantly in the middle of plays throughout the game. His interference penalty did lead to a goal, but I put that more on the referees for not calling a coinciding penalty on Brouwer for trying to get to Palmieri after the play. On the day, he was a positive player according to Corsi, and he, Hall, and Zajac were the best line for the Devils today. Palmieri was second on the team with four shots, and his fourteen goals put him tied for the lead with Henrique in goals.
Greene Returns: After a 12-game absence, Andy Greene finally returned to the ice. On the day he was alright. Some rustiness was expected, and Greene was impressive considering the rustiness. His failed clearance directly led to a goal on the first Flames Power-play, where TJ Brodie saved the puck from leaving the zone, but aside from that he didn’t too anything to egregious. According to Corsi stats, he had a -11 difference in even strength, but I’d blame that more on Ben Lovejoy being Ben Lovejoy rather than Andy Greene playing incredibly poor. Speaking of Lovejoy, he was the worst defenseman on the ice in terms of Corsi. Even Seth Helgeson had a better night than him (albeit he played significantly less).
Flames Heroics: From what I saw, the expected players did the best for the Flames today. The line of Monahan - Gaudreau - Tkachuk dominated play whenever they were on the ice, and TJ Brodie acted as the facilitator when it came to passing the puck. On the night, he had four assists, and all of them were crucial passes leading to the goal. Brodie was the best player on the ice for the Flames today, and he hurt the Devils real bad.
Other players who impressed me include Kris Versteeg, Mark Giordano, and Matt Stajan. Versteeg and Stajan are good depth pieces for this Flames team, and Stajan was causing havoc for the Devils this game. His tying goal was crucial for the Flames, and a nice play as well on his part. Mark Giordano took five shots on target, and played solid defense on the night.
Poor Schneider: Looking at the stats, Schneider had a horrendous game. However, from having watched the game, I thought that Schneider played incredibly well, and could only be at fault for one of the goals (Versteeg). When Schneider plays bad, he usually blames himself in the post-game interview. After this game, Schneider didn’t blame himself, which was correct. The defense left Schneider out to dry in this game, and if it weren’t for Schneider, this game would be a lot worse. What’s missing as compared to last year is that solid defense player in the form of Adam Larsson. While Taylor Hall has been wonderful for the Devils, Damon Severson and Ben Lovejoy haven’t held up well against opposing offenses. Jon Merrill temporarily looked like the answer, and may actually be the answer, but is out injured as of now.
One Last Thought: Kalinin and Blandisi replaced Fiddler and Smith-Pelly on the ice today. While I can’t say that they were better than Fiddler, they were certainly better than how Smith-Pelly usually plays. Also, playing Parenteau on the fourth line seems to suggest that the Devils are going for the playoffs as of now. If they had given up, Parenteau would be getting more ice time, in order to build trade value.
Your Take: How did you guys feel about this game? Do you have hope for the Devils very slim playoff chances? Do you believe in Henrique and Palmieri’s resurgence this season? Let me know what you guys think in the comment below, and have a good night.