FGD: SPOILER ALERT!

Jagr

via www.doliveiraphoto.com 

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.

THE LINE-UPS

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

  • Ramo

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.

THE OPPONENTS

  • Ruutu – Zajac – Jagr
  • Brunner – Zubrus – Ryder
  • Carter – Gionta – Bernier
  • Gelinas – Sestito – Sislo
  • Greene – Fayne
  • Volchenkov – Zidlicky
  • Merrill – Harrold

  • Schneider

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.   

  • Flash

    So people say teams shouldn’t tank because that breeds a “losing” (aka Oilers) culture that is very hard to shake off.

    If that’s really the case though, how did the Avs and Lightning so quickly go from bottom 5 last year to top 10 this year?

  • cgyokgn

    I watched the Jersey feed most of the game and they called Ramo “Rambo” several times… lots of respect for him and he deserved it. A veteran team desperately trying to tie up against a team basically auditioning it’s prospects and they couldn’t beat Ramo. Agostino got a few good chances… looks to have some offensive upside.

  • T&A4Flames

    This is a 4th overall pick line up if I’ve ever seen one…..if we manage to win this then I give up, may as well run the table. Won’t be worse than 5th anyways.

    If Cammy gets another GWG though I might lose my biscuits.

    • Byron Bader

      He negotiated ‘top line looks’ into his contract is the only thing that I can think of as a reasonable explanation for his appearance on the 1st line. I think he started that way in Florida as well. He was off of the line half way through the 1st.

  • T&A4Flames

    Added bonus to signing Jagr is that he is a RW but shoots left (i believe). With Colborne moving to RW recently, Jagr could likely show him a ton of stuff, least of all how to add poundage to that 6’5″ frame. Colborne will never be a Jagr, but he does have the size and some very decent hands. A few skill lessons from a legend like Jagr, he could become a very good player.

  • Parallex

    Please Please Please sign Jagr. We’re gonna have to pay entirely too much money to some winger this offseason to meet the cap floor… I’d be stoked if it could be a surefire first ballot hall of famer like Jagr, 40+ years of age or not.

  • T&A4Flames

    My buddies brother plays for the avs. He says jagr is one of the hardest guys in the league to play against. He’s so solid, you can’t push him off the puck. The guy must work out hard.

    • Byron Bader

      6’3” and 240 pounds with immense skill. I’ve heard his fitness regime these days is off the charts as well. He’s built to dominate and works hard to keep in top form for sure.

  • Byron Bader

    Jagr’s an amazing talent and I would for sure sign him. But probably not next year. The Flames just aren’t close enough yet. It would just be a waste. The year after next, if he can still play, would be interesting.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I might be alone on this one, but I’d be willing to sign Jagr to a one-year deal with the Flames. He’s reputed to be great in the dressing room, and another veteran presence (read hockey icon) would be good with all the fresh faces in next years line up.

    Just maybe he could get to 1800 points in a Flames jersey.