April 07 2014 11:55AM
Tonight, in game #79 for both squads, the Calgary Flames (33-38-7) will wrap up their current 5-game road-trip against the New Jersey Devils (34-28-16) in Newark, New Jersey. The game is the 2nd and final time the teams will face each other in the 2013-14 season. It’s an early one. Puck drops at 5 pm MT on Sportsnet West.
The Flames continue to put on an admiral performance down the stretch, despite having been out of the playoffs since December. They’re 6-4 in their last 10. More impressively, since that dust-up with the Canucks in January, when they’re possession started to steadily rise, the team has gone 17-12-1. Here’s something I didn’t realize … in that stretch, there was seven games that went to OT or shootout and the Flame have won the last six that have gone to extra time. Even with the play over the past 30 games, the Flames barely budged from the bottom of the league and are nearly guaranteed to get their first top five pick in franchise history.
Last time out, the Flames beat the Florida Panthers 2-1. The Flames defeated Tampa Bay and Florida on back-to-back nights on Thursday and Friday and they achieved many a thing. One, they extended their single-season franchise record of close games, playing in their 47th one-goal game of the season (the previous record was 45 in 2005-06). Only four teams in recent history have been involved in more close games – 2010-11 Panthers, 2010-11 Hurricanes, 2006-07 Devils and 2006-07 Canucks). Only the Devils and Canucks made the playoffs out of that group. Also, the Flames won their first back-to-back road-set, in regulation, since February 19, 2008. So six years since they last won back-to-back road games in regulation – just wow. (all of these tidbits come via Darren Haynes of the Canadian Press –@DarrenWHaynes).
The Devils, unlike the Flames, are still technically in the playoff race. According to www.sportsclubstats.com, the Devils currently have a 22.4% chance of making the playoffs. With only four games remaining, including tonight’s match, every game is a must win for the Devils to even have a chance, as they currently sit three points behind the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets. The Devils will bring it tonight. Throw in a game against the hard-working, never-say-die Calgary Flames and we should be in for a dandy.
Hot off the internets from www.dailyfaceoffs.com
- Cammalleri – Hudler – Van Brabant
- Glencross – Monahan – Colborne
- Agostino – Galiardi – McGrattan
- Hanowski – Bouma – Westgarth
- Giordano – Brodie
- Russell – Butler
- Billins – Cundari
The Flames are missing numerous key players these days. Byron and Stajan are back in Calgary attending to family matters. Backlund (hand) will miss his second straight game. On the back-end, Wideman and Smid are both still out.
Cammalleri continues his torrid offensive streak since the trade deadline that can only be described as ‘you don’t want to pay a 2nd rounder for me?! Good luck in the playoffs then. I’ll take your money in the summer’. Since the deadline, Cammy has 20 points in 17 games, which includes three points in the two-game set in Florida last week.
Agostino notched his 1st NHL goal on Friday night. Stick taps to that. Speaking of rookies, another tidbit from Darren Haynes was brought to light over the weekend. With Agostino’s goal, in the 2013-14 season, Flames’ rookies have notched 36 goals (Monahan – 20, Colborne – 10, Baertschi - 2, Granlund - 2, Agostino - 1 and Knight - 1) In the previous five seasons combined, Flames’ rookies had 34 goals. If there was any doubt whether the Flames’ prospect cupboards were starting to get some substance compared to the Sutter days that stat should answer the question!
After getting a breather on Friday, Ramo should draw back into the net tonight.
- Ruutu – Zajac – Jagr
- Brunner – Zubrus – Ryder
- Carter – Gionta – Bernier
- Gelinas – Sestito – Sislo
- Greene – Fayne
- Volchenkov – Zidlicky
- Merrill – Harrold
The Devils are a little bit banged up themselves, missing Team Captain Bryce Salvador, Ryan Clowe, Patrik Elias and Adam Henrique. But the Devils have Jaromir Jagr, one of the greatest to play the game, which always gives a team a chance.
Not often can a team flirting with the playoffs say their MVP and best offensive threat is a 42-year-old. But as far as the Devils and Jagr goes, this is most certainly the case. He has 64 points in 78 games and is outscoring his closest teammate by 13 points. A player who entered the league 23 years ago, has registered over 1,750 points, which included taking a three-year sabbatical from the NHL to go play in Europe. He is perhaps one of the most talented players to ever play hockey. The legs might not be what they once were but with his enormous frame, ability to protect the puck and vision that remains intact, Jagr may have a few good years left him.
As the playoff bid is in full-force, Schneider will get the start tonight over Marty Brodeur.
SUM IT UP
The Devils are hoping to stay alive in their playoff quest, the Flames could play spoiler and kill the Devils’ chances altogether. Both teams are quite banged up. The Flames are missing one of their key ingredients for success, Mikael Backlund, but the Devils are missing most of their offensive weapons. The playing field looks pretty equal in this one and it should be another close battle. Could we see the 48th one-goal game of the season for the Flames? We just might.